Brexit sell-out warning: Gove hints UK open to compromise on fishing with ‘staged process’

Brexit sell-out warning: Gove hints UK open to compromise on fishing with ‘staged process’

The Conservative frontbencher said there is “scope for compromise” from the UK side on a fisheries deal with the EU which could allow European boats to continue to enter British waters for a period of time. Hinting at a deal that will see a “staged process”, Mr Gove said: “I think there can be scope for compromise but the compromise exists in a way by which European boats can continue to access UK waters.

“But what is not up for compromise is the principle that the UK will be an independent coastal state and that it will be a matter for negotiations between the UK and the EU with the UK in control of our waters.

“Countries like Iceland and Norway have control over who enters their waters.

“I think we can be very generous with that.

“I think we can reach arrangements with European countries that allow a stage process so there can be a degree of certainty so they can manage things.”

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Asked whether that “staged process” would last three, five or ten years, he said: “I’m not in the negotiating room at the moment and I think it’s important that people can see that whatever the period of staging, the sovereignty, the control over UK waters, which any independent country should have, has to be respected.”

Mr Gove also said the UK wanted a non-regression agreement as part of level-playing field stipulations in a trade deal with the EU.

He told Today: “The issue of particular contention is that last week the EU negotiators didn’t simply want an arrangement whereby we pledge what we call non-regression – which is common in most trade treaties, which means you maintain the standards at the point of entry – they actually wanted an arrangement that meant if the EU adopted new laws, that the UK would have to (follow them) or the EU would retaliate.

“We can accept the non-regression principles, which are common to free trade agreements, which indeed Canada entered into and that’s the point we’ve always made – we want an arrangement similar to the one Canada has with the European Union.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will head to Brussels today for dinner with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a last ditch attempt to avoid a tumultuous no-trade deal Brexit in three weeks’ time.

With growing fears of chaotic no deal finale to the five-year Brexit crisis when the United Kingdom finally leaves the EU’s orbit on December 31, the dinner is being cast as a last chance to unlock the stalled trade talks.

“We must be realistic that an agreement may not be possible as we will not compromise on reclaiming UK sovereignty,” a British government source said.

“It’s clear that some political impetus will be required for the talks to make any more progress,” the source said, adding that if progress was made then negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost could resume talks.

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Failure to secure a deal would snarl borders, shock financial markets and disrupt delicate supply chains across Europe and beyond as the world tries to cope with the vast economic cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

EU chief Brexit negotiator Barnier said on Tuesday he believed a no deal split in ties with Britain at the end of the year was now more likely than agreement on a trade pact, sources in the bloc said.

A diplomat and an official in Brussels, speaking under condition of anonymity, said Barnier made the remark at a meeting with the 27 national European affairs ministers and added that it was time for the bloc to update its no deal contingency plans.

Published at Wed, 09 Dec 2020 08:40:00 +0000