Brexit: Emmanuel Macron calls for 'fair agreement' on fisheries
With barely a week before the end of the transition period, the prospects of a deal are hanging in the balance – and a deadline of 11pm last night set by MEPs in order for it to be ratified by the end the year passed without any agreement. There has been little progress on the key sticking points – fishing rights, rules to protect the integrity of the bloc’s single market, and the role of the European Court of Justice.
Betting website Smarkets currently rates the chances of a deal at 50/50, with the odds dropping significantly in the last week.
UK negotiators are understood to believe Mr Macron is taking a calculated risk that no deal will be so unpopular domestically Mr Johnson will cave in and accept Brussels’ terms within weeks.
However, one source told the Telegraph: “If we leave without a deal there will inevitably be criticism of the Government, even though the Prime Minister has made it clear we will thrive either way.
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Why on earth would we go through that if we intended to go back to Brussels cap-in-hand a few weeks later
“Why on earth would we go through that if we intended to go back to Brussels cap-in-hand a few weeks later and accept a deal we have already rejected?
“If Emmanuel Macron thinks that’s what’s going to happen he has made a massive miscalculation.”
Another insider added: “Unfortunately, the EU are still struggling to get the flexibility needed from member states and are continuing to make demands that are incompatible with our independence.
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“We cannot accept a deal that doesn’t leave us in control of our own laws or waters.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier tweeted yesterday: “In this crucial moment for the EUGB negotiations, we continue to work hard with @DavidGHFrost and his team.
“The EU remains committed to a fair, reciprocal & balanced agreement. We respect the sovereignty of the UK. And we expect the same.
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“Both EU & GB must have the right to set their own laws & control their own waters. And we should both be able to act when our interests are at stake.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk last week, Nicolas Bay, the general secretary of the right-wing National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen, appeared to have similar expectations with respect to the looming deadline.
He said: “We would risk, by wanting to rush the signing of a badly-stitched agreement, that it would take us down the wrong road and further damage the balance of the future relationship.
“The stakes are high for both sides: let us allow ourselves time to find a compromise that is mutually beneficial.
“It would have been preferable to avoid a “no-deal” but it would not be catastrophic for anyone.
“It would amount to a new phase of transition during which negotiations would continue.
“They will inevitably succeed because we all have to gain in this.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was considering the idea of rushing through a Brexit deal struck before the end of the year without MEPs having the opportunity to vote on it, Sky News’ Europe Correspondent Adam Parsons reported last month.
Referring to EU27 countries, Mr Parsons said: “Lots of them want contingency plans, and lots of talk also about how a deal could be rushed through if it’s achieved.
“One thing that jumps out is something called provisional application.
“What that might mean is that if a deal is agreed at the last-minute, it’s put in place before it’s even ratified.
“One source told me that would be a very precarious option.”
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