Boris Johnson said Emmanuel Macron ’shares my keen interest in protecting the eco-systems of our sea’ in an underhanded dig at the French president – as Brexit negotiations remain deadlocked over fishing rights.
The UK’s chief trade negotiator Lord Frost was today seen leaving European Union headquarters in Brussels via a dingy underground car park following a meeting with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier.
The pair met in the hopes of breaking the deadlock over French access to British waters and the so-called level playing field ‘ratchet’ that would tie the UK to future EU standards.
In a speech during the virtual Climate Ambition Summit this afternoon – which Mr Johnson is co-hosting with the French president – the PM appeared to make a subtle reference to Mr Macron’s demands.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Thank you all very much for joining this conference, thank you to secretary general Antonio and to my co-host Emmanuel Macron who I know shares my keen interest in protecting the eco-systems of our seas and oceans.’
The dig comes as a source revealed that terms offered by the European Union on a trade deal are still ‘unacceptable’ to the UK.
Talks between Lord Frost and Mr Barnier are expected to last late into the night in Brussels as officials stressed there had been no breakthrough in the latest discussions that started just before midday on Saturday.
The Prime Minister will speak with the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday.
The UK’s chief trade negotiator Lord Frost was seen leaving European Union headquarters in Brussels via a dingy underground car park (pictured) following a meeting with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier
Boris Johnson (pictured during his speech) said Emmanuel Macron ‘shares my keen interest in protecting the eco-systems of our sea’ in an underhanded dig at the French president – as Brexit negotiations remain deadlocked over fishing rights
During a speech (pictured) at the virtual Climate Ambition Summit today – that Mr Johnson is co-hosting with the French president – the PM appeared to make an underhanded reference to the French President’s demands.
Farmers’ union warns of ‘significant disruption’ to farming sector if no-deal Brexit goes ahead
Farmers have warned there will be ‘significant disruption’ to the sector if the UK fails to reach a Brexit trade deal with the EU.
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said it was ‘critically important’ that a free trade agreement was reached between both sides, with a priority on securing a tariff and quota-free deal.
More than 60 per cent of the UK’s agricultural food and drink production – worth £14.5 billion to economy – is exported to the EU, making it the largest trading partner for British farmers.
But without a deal at the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, farmers could lose free access to the EU ‘overnight’, the NFU warned.
Union president Minette Batters said in a statement: ‘Reaching a deal is critical to maintaining those trade links and without it there will be significant disruption for British food and farming.
‘The Government needs to be straight with businesses about the impact of no-deal and address many outstanding issues, such as ensuring the necessary authorisations are in place for agri-food exports and guaranteeing there will be sufficient financial support, advice and resource for businesses, provided in a timely manner.’
The NFU said without a Brexit trade deal European customers could face higher prices for UK products, meaning they may try to source them from elsewhere.
Livestock, crop, poultry, dairy and horticulture farming sectors would all be negatively affected, the union added.
The Prime Minister faced criticism over his Brexit plan on Saturday – which lead a former Conservative party chairman to brand him an ‘English nationalist’.
Gunboats are being prepared for any ‘punch-ups’ with ‘stormy’ French fishermen as last-minute negotiations with the EU rumble on.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed last night four 80-metre gunboats are on standby to stop EU trawlers using British waters, assuming there is no new agreement on fishing rights after December 31 when transitional arrangements end.
Reports also suggested that military helicopter surveillance will be made available and that ministers are considering beefing-up Navy powers in legislation to authorise them to board and arrest fishermen found to be contravening post-Brexit rules.
Mr Johnson also used his speech to insist that Britain’s climate change measures were not in place because the Government is ‘hair-shirt-wearing, tree-hugging, mung-bean-munching eco freaks’.
Heading into the summit, the PM committed to ending all direct UK support for the fossil-fuel sector overseas and presented plans for a ‘green industrial revolution’ creating up to 250,000 jobs, especially in renewable energy.
‘We are doing this not because we are hair-shirt-wearing, tree-hugging, mung-bean-munching eco freaks,’ he told the summit.
‘We are doing it because we know that scientific advances will allow us, collectively as humanity, to save our planet and create millions of high-skilled jobs as we recover from Covid.’
Meanwhile, preparations are being made at ports, with part of the M20 motorway to be shut for four consecutive nights across the weekend as Kent tests plans to tackle any disruption as a result of customs changes.
But the navy threat has been slammed by other members of Mr Johnson’s party, with Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, calling it ‘irresponsible’ while former European commissioner Lord Patten accused the Prime Minister of behaving like an ‘English nationalist’.
Lord Patten added that Mr Johnson was on a ‘runaway train of English exceptionalism’ in thinking no-deal would allow the nation to prosper.
He told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: ‘While I hope for the best, I do fear for the worst because it is very, very difficult to see what the plan is, how we’re going to do so brilliantly when we’re out of this ‘cage’ of Europe – which we of course helped to build because the main constructor of the single market was Margaret Thatcher.’
A former navy chief says Boris Johnson is right to prepare Brexit gunboats for any ‘punch-up’ with ‘stormy’ French fishermen as last-minute negotiations with the EU rumble on today
Lord Patten, pictured, said the Prime Minister was on a ‘runaway train of English exceptionalism’ in thinking no-deal would allow the nation to prosper
Chief trade negotiators Michel Barnier and Lord Frost, pictured, were set to start negotiating again shortly before midday today in Brussels, with talks also scheduled for tomorrow
Admiral Lord West’s comments on the threat to deploy four armed vessels to patrol UK fishing waters comes as lorry queuing tests continue on the M20 with no-deal looming
Preparations are being made at ports, with part of the M20 motorway to be shut for four consecutive nights across the weekend as Kent tests plans to tackle any disruption as a result of customs changes
Freight lorries are separated from other traffic on a Dover-bound section of the M20 motorway in Kent, during a live test by Highways England to mobilise a moveable barrier system
Lorries were seen queuing along the M20 to board ferries in Dover on Saturday, pictured with the White Cliffs of Dover
Disruption is expected in Kent over the weekend as a live-test of Operation Brock – the M20 no-deal traffic contingency plan – was put in place on Friday night
An information campaign advert on the motorway in Kent reads: ‘Hauliers, new rules for Europe are coming 01 Jan 2021’
The decision to ready the Navy for increased territorial patrols – likely to be read as a warning in Brussels over fishing rights – comes after Mr Johnson met senior minister Michael Gove, who has responsibility for Brexit planning, and other officials on Friday afternoon to ‘take stock’ of Government plans for a no-deal exit.
The Prime Minister and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen have both warned that a no-deal outcome looks more likely than an agreement in the trade negotiations, with the pair having agreed to take a firm decision on the future of the talks on Sunday.
The bid to shore up protection of British waters came at the suggestion of some Government backbenchers, with Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski tweeting on Friday that naval forces should be deployed in the New Year ‘to prevent illegal French fishing in our waters’.
Lord West, a former chief of naval staff, also said he agreed that the Royal Navy should protect UK waters from foreign fishing vessels if asked to do so in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
‘It is absolutely appropriate that the Royal Navy should protect our waters if the position is that we are a sovereign state and our Government has said we don’t want other nations there,’ he told Today.
‘There are complications in that you can push vessels aside, you can cut their fishing tackle but boarding these foreign ships, they’ll need to pass probably a little thing through Parliament to give authority to board and get on them.
‘There is no doubt if you are a fisherman who has fished for years there – they are, as our fishermen are, quite stormy people – and you get a bit of a punch-up and you might need some Marines and things.’
Mr Ellwood was more critical, though, saying: ’I think these headlines are absolutely irresponsible. We need to be focusing on what is already in the bag – 98% of the deal is there, there are three or four outstanding issues,’ Mr Ellwood said.
‘Important though they are, let’s park those for the future. Let’s get this deal because economically, but most importantly, international reputationally this would be so damaging to Britain – it would be a retrograde step, a failure of statecraft.’
Maritime Security Centre to help deal with any clashes in fishing grounds.
The naval ships could even be ordered to impound rogue French fishing vessels.
Britain will send in four Royal Navy vessels with cannon and machine guns to patrol the English Channel and Irish Sea to stop illegal fishing if a trade deal is not agreed with the EU
This map shows the extent of the UK’s Exclusive Economic Zone – the waters Britain will take back control of after Brexit. At the moment the EEZ of every EU member state is merged into one large zone which can be accessed by fishermen from all over Europe
The potential deployment evokes memories of the Cod Wars of the 1970s. At times the Royal Navy stopped Icelandic boats interfering with British trawlers.
The move is unlikely to calm tensions ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for a decision on whether trade negotiations should carry on.
Boris Johnson yesterday warned No Deal was now ‘very, very likely’, meaning Britain would have to trade with the EU under what he calls an ‘Australian-style relationship’.
The Prime Minister had tried to speak directly to Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel but the French and German leaders rebuffed his approach.
As Mr Macron refused to budge on fishing quotas, insisting he was unwilling to ‘give up my share of the cake’:
- Mr Johnson met Michael Gove and senior officials last night to vet No Deal plans in case he abandons trade talks tomorrow;
- The Governor of the Bank of England insisted the financial system was in an incredibly strong position;
- However the pound fell and analysts warned No Deal could wipe £36billion off the value of leading companies;
- Farmers feared for sheep flocks because of the prospect of crippling export tariffs;
- Roads to the Channel ports were again jammed yesterday.
Fishing rights have been one of the key sticking points in the trade talks, with the two sides bitterly divided over how much access EU fleets should continue to have to British waters.
Earlier this week the EU suggested it should continue to enjoy the same access as it does now for at least another year – even under No Deal. That idea has been rejected by UK ministers.
The Ministry of Defence has spent months drawing up contingency plans for a number of outcomes at the end of the transition period on December 31.
It is feared that a No Deal result could lead to clashes between rival boats – with internal government warnings of EU fisherman continuing to fish in UK waters at the end of this month.
A 34-page ‘official sensitive’ document on reasonable worst-case scenarios states: ‘EU and UK fishers could clash over the lost access to historic fishing grounds, and there could be a significant uplift in illegal fishing activities.’
The Royal Navy has drawn up a range of enforcement measures to protect the UK’s status as an ‘independent coastal state’.
Its four vessels would be deployed ‘when it gets feisty’, government sources said.
It is understood the Navy is preparing to deploy two Batch 1 vessels and two Batch 2 vessels, which are almost 300ft in length and weigh 2,000 tons.
The Batch 1 vessels are equipped with 20mm cannons and 7.62mm machine guns. The Batch 2s have 30mm MK44 Bushmaster cannons.
A Navy source said: ‘It’s highly likely you’ll get a couple of those at sea on New Year’s Day.’
The insider added that requests for assistance would come from other government departments adding: ‘We will lean in to support wherever required.’
A government source said: ‘They’ll be able to support border force and step in when there are boats in our waters that are not compliant and not willing to exit.
‘If there’s a fishing vessel within 12 nautical miles that isn’t willing to leave that is when the Navy will step in’.
As well as providing a physical presence and deterrence, the vessels will be able to inspect vessels if needed.
The Navy has eight offshore patrol vessels and has sent their crews on courses to learn about fisheries protection. Helicopters could be drafted in to search for groups of vessels.
Mr Gove warned in October that the Navy would be patrolling British waters in the days after the transition period. The Cabinet Office minister said they would ‘make sure no one is abusing their rights when it comes to access to our fishing waters’.
Top brass have put 14,000 personnel on standby to respond to No Deal and help with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines and potential severe weather events.
Norway yesterday said it might close its fishing waters to European and British vessels from January 1. Oslo concluded a bilateral agreement with Britain in October but first wants this to be part of a trilateral deal with the EU.
‘If we do not get a deal by January 1, we will not open Norway’s economic fishing zones to vessels from the EU and Britain,’ said fisheries and seafood minister Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.
Ursula von der Leyen, pictured alongside Angela Merkel and Charles Michel, told European leaders at a meeting of the European Council that there is now a ‘higher probability for no deal than deal’
Now it’s Le Snub: No Deal on a knife edge, but Macron and Merkel won’t take Boris’s calls
By JOHN STEVENS IN LONDON AND JAMES FRANEY IN BRUSSELS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
No deal is now ‘very, very likely’, Boris Johnson last night warned as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel refused even to speak to him.
The Prime Minister will decide tomorrow whether to lead Britain out of the European Union without a trade deal.
He declared yesterday that leaving without an agreement would be ‘wonderful for the UK and we’d be able to do exactly what we want’.
Ahead of the looming deadline, it was revealed that the French president and German chancellor have rejected Downing Street’s request to hold emergency talks on the telephone to break the impasse.
No deal is now ‘very, very likely’, Boris Johnson last night warned as Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel refused even to speak to him. Pictured: Boris Johnson visits Blyth Beach on the way back from a visit to National Renewable Energy Centre on Friday
As he attended an EU summit yesterday, Emmanuel Macron (pictured in Brussels on Friday) refused to budge on the key issue of fishing quotas as he insisted he is unwilling to ‘give up my share of the cake’
Instead, the two most important leaders in Europe have demanded that all negotiations are conducted through officials in Brussels.
As he attended an EU summit yesterday, Mr Macron refused to budge on the key issue of fishing quotas as he insisted he is unwilling to ‘give up my share of the cake’.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the assembled leaders she believes there is now a greater chance of No Deal than an agreement.
PM assembles the big guns to get battle plans fighting fit
Ministers were rounded up by Boris Johnson in Downing Street last night to review ‘battle plans’ in case he abandons trade talks tomorrow.
The Prime Minister has taken charge of No Deal preparations and he wants senior officials ready to meet round the clock.
A committee led by Michael Gove has spent the past few weeks ‘war gaming’ different scenarios for leaving the EU without a trade agreement.
From next week it is expected to sit several times a day if negotiations with Brussels fail.
Government departments have begun standing up their No Deal plans, which include the launch of a new 24/7 border operations centre.
The state-of-the-art facility will gather live information on the flow across the border and help the Government and police make rapid decisions.
Even if there is a trade agreement, ministers predict disruption at the border in the New Year that could last months.
French authorities will impose full EU customs and controlled goods checks on all goods.
The Government has admitted there was a possibility of up to 7,000 lorries waiting for two days in tailbacks.
Lord Frost and Michel Barnier, the UK and EU’s chief negotiators, this morning will continue talks in Brussels as they seek to resolve the two biggest stumbling blocks regarding Britain setting its own standards under a trade deal and fishing quotas.
Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen have set a deadline of tomorrow to decide whether there is any point continuing negotiations. It is thought the Prime Minister could fly to Brussels if he believes there is a chance of getting a deal.
The Prime Minister on Thursday said he was willing to go to Paris, Berlin or ‘wherever to try and get this home and get a deal’.
But an EU official revealed yesterday that Mr Johnson had already been told he must negotiate with the European Commission after he requested a telephone call with Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel on Monday and it was rejected.
On a visit to Blyth in Northumberland yesterday, Mr Johnson admitted he was not hopeful of a breakthrough in the trade talks.
‘Unfortunately at the moment, as you know, there are two key things where we just can’t seem to make progress and that’s this kind of ratchet clause they’ve got in to keep the UK locked in to whatever they want to do in terms of legislation, which obviously doesn’t work,’ he said.
‘And then there is the whole issue of fish where we’ve got to be able to take back control of our waters. So there is a way to go – we’re hopeful that progress can be made.
‘I’ve got to tell that from where I stand now, here in Blyth, it is looking very, very likely that we will have to go for a solution that I think would be wonderful for the UK, and we’d be able to do exactly what we want from January 1.
‘It obviously would be different from what we’d set out to achieve but I have no doubt this country can get ready and, as I say, come out on World Trade terms.’
At a press conference in Brussels yesterday Mrs von der Leyen insisted that under the EU’s proposal the UK would have the right to diverge from its rules, but insisted that measures such as tariffs and quotas would need to be introduced if it led to a competitive advantage.
‘They would remain free. Sovereign, if you wish, to decide what they want to do,’ the Commission president said.
‘We would simply adapt the conditions for access to our market accordingly [to] the decision of the United Kingdom, and this would apply vice versa.’
Asked about her comments, a Downing Street spokesman said: ‘I would say there isn’t anything new here. Because they still say they would adapt the conditions they place on us for access. And our position on sovereignty remains unchanged.’
On the issue of fishing, Mrs von der Leyen insisted that European boats had a ‘legitimate expectation’ to maintain access to British waters as they have done for ‘decades, and, sometimes, centuries’.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte last night called on both sides to find a compromise.
He said: ‘The only thing I can say to ourselves, to our side but also to Boris Johnson, it will be unexplainable to the rest of the world if the UK and Europe are not able to come to a deal. In these times of upheaval.’
SIMON WALTERS: How Aussie rules come with a serious health warning for Boris Johnson
By SIMON WALTERS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
Boris Johnson has a new ploy when asked about the prospect of a No Deal Brexit outcome: He talks about Australia instead.
He did it again yesterday, comparing leaving the EU without a trade agreement as ‘the Australian-style option’.
On Thursday, the Prime Minister said cutting ties with Brussels ‘on Australian terms’ would allow the UK to ‘prosper mightily’ and take advantage of ‘amazing possibilities’.
His justification for calling it the ‘Aussie option’ is because if we leave the EU, as seems increasingly likely, with no trade deal, we will have to trade with it on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. That is how Australia trades with the EU.
Boris Johnson (pictured ) has a new ploy when asked about the prospect of a No Deal Brexit outcome: He talks about Australia instead
If the British-EU trade talks cannot be rescued, WTO rules will apply to us: British firms will face tariffs on many goods traded with the EU – just like Australia does.
The thinking of skilled communicator Mr Johnson would appear to be that ‘No Deal’ has a threatening ring and ‘WTO rules’ are dizzyingly complex.
They sound more like some kind of American wrestling circus than a manual on how much we will have pay for Spanish tomatoes.
But former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has poured a bucket of cold water over Mr Johnson’s attempt to give No Deal a sunny Australian makeover.
He warned the Prime Minister on BBC TV’s Question Time on Thursday to ‘be careful what you wish for’ in using Australia to paint No Deal as attractive.
Trading with the EU on WTO rules had created ‘very big barriers’ for Australian farmers, said Mr Turnbull, and Britain would face similar problems.
‘It’ll be pretty disappointing, I think you’ll find out,’ said Mr Turnbull, Australian prime minister until 2018.
‘Australians would not regard our trade relationship with Europe as being a satisfactory one. It is not one from a trade point of view that I think Britain would want, frankly. So be careful what you wish for.’
The thinking of skilled communicator Mr Johnson would appear to be that ‘No Deal’ has a threatening ring and ‘WTO rules’ are dizzyingly complex
That was why Australia was currently negotiating its own trade deal with Brussels, he added.
Mr Johnson’s critics say comparing a Brexit No Deal to Australia’s trading terms with the EU is misleading.
They point out that the UK trades more than half its goods with the EU, compared with just 11 per cent for Australia; and the UK is 20 miles from continental Europe: Australia is on the other side of the world.
It is not the first time Mr Johnson has presented Australia as a template for his Brexit policies. He won the EU referendum in 2016 by promising to slash immigration with a new ‘Australian-style points-based system’.
Cynics said his argument had little to do with the merits of a points-based system for immigration.
The UK has had one for non-EU immigrants since 2007, they pointed out; and in Australia, the points-based system was not devised to keep numbers down.
The Prime Minister’s detractors said it was because focus group research in recent years has showed that Britons have an overwhelmingly positive view of Australia, the land of golden beaches, cricket and kangaroos – and being tough on immigration.
They are said to think of TV film of asylum seekers in Australia being put in camps on remote Pacific islands – even though that has nothing to do with its points-based immigration system.
They view Australia as a predominantly white country, whereas in fact the number of Australians born abroad, including many from ethnic minorities, has risen sharply in recent years.
Not all Australians are as gloomy as Mr Turnbull about Britain’s post Brexit fate under WTO rules.
Tony Abbott, Australian prime minister from 2013 to 2015 and now a UK trade envoy, maintains we have nothing to worry about.
‘Let me reassure anyone in Britain anxious about the prospect of No Deal, that Australia does $100billion worth of trade with the EU every year, on this very basis,’ he has said.
We may find out the truth about an ‘Aussie rules’ Brexit in 20 days.
EU leaders react to UK's Brexit vote — as it happened
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