Davis warns Brexit fisheries threaten EU with major split as Macron and Merkel lock horns

Brexit: Wires ‘running hot’ between Macron and Merkel says Davis

Speaking to BBC News, the former Brexit Secretary claimed a decision on a trade deal with the UK by the end of the year will come from Berlin and Paris, as Brussels chief negotiator Michel Barnier was faced with a “dramatic and unreasonable” change of instruction by leaders Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron last week. Mr Davis argued the trade talks between the EU and the UK might have for the first time caused criticism of Paris by other EU leaders as the French President threaten to veto any agreement reached with the UK over fisheries. 

Mr Davis said: “This will be decided not in Brussels but in Berlin and Paris, in the big capitals of Europe.

“Because at the end of the day that’s where the vested interest are represented.

“What’s happened is Barnier’s licence was changed last week, quite dramatically and quite unreasonably.

“It’s interesting how for the first time you’re seeing criticism from Brussels of Paris as they thought they were heading towards a deal.

“The real big decision I suspect won’t be this afternoon between the Prime Minister and the President of the Commission.

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“Wires are running hot between Berlin and Paris, and other capitals.”

He added: “If we get to the end of the month and there is no deal, look at it from the other side, French fishermen will have no fish because they won’t have any access.

“Same for the Belgian fishermen, the Danish and so on.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to be in talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon. 

On Friday, France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune publicly warned his country could veto any agreement if they were not happy with the terms.

He said: “France is attached to the interest of our fishermen, we’re attached to trade conditions that are equitable.

Brexit: France and Ireland disagree over no deal prospect

“And I think this is also the case for our partners.

“If there was a deal that wasn’t good that according to our evaluation didn’t correspond to these interests, we will oppose it. We’ve always said that.”

Responding to the French minister, Irish MEP Barry Andrews told Channel 4 News: “We have to get a deal, no deal is not acceptable.

“If 98 percent of the text is already stabilised, there’s not enough between us to justify the damage to people’s livelihoods.

“I think it would be a failure of politics if we are this close and we still expose people to high degrees of unemployment as a result of no deal.”

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Irish premier Micheal Martin – whose country could be one of the biggest losers in the event of no-deal – complained some member states had been putting pressure on to gain “additional information”.

He pointedly called for the negotiators to be given the “space” they needed to conclude their discussions.

EU leaders are due to meet on Thursday for a two-day summit in Brussels – their last scheduled gathering of the year – when they could sign-off on any agreement.

Time then has to be found for both Houses of Parliament in the UK and the European parliament to ratify it before the transition period expires.

In a joint statement following the latest round of negotiations in London, the UK’s Lord Frost and the EU’s Michel Barnier said the conditions for an agreement had still not been met.

If there is no agreement the UK will leave the European single market and customs union on December 31 and begin trading with the bloc on World Trade Organisation terms, with the imposition of tariffs and quotas.

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