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As Brexit talks go into overdrive ahead of the transition period deadline, frustration has emerged over the repeated sticking point of fishing rights. The UK Government is fighting for the ability to control who has access to British fishing waters after 2020, while French President Emmanuel Macron is urging for a continuation of the EU’s current arrangement. France’s former Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau furiously clashed with BBC Radio 4 host Mishal Husain as the pair discussed the issue.
Ms Loiseau told the Today show: “We are all independent states. My home country is an independent state.
“The UK was an independent state when it was belonging to the Common Fisheries Policy.
“For centuries, long before the UK started belonging to the ECC, the European fishermen and British fishermen were fishing in the same sea, and this was to the benefit of everyone.
“When something is working, why should there be sacrifices?”
Ms Husain shot back: “Well it’s not working for the British fishermen.”
The French MEP replied that since European fishermen did not decide on Brexit, they should not “pay a price” for a decision they have not made.
Britain wants to change the way its fish stocks are allocated and taper off EU catches over several years.
France has refused any compromise, claiming that no deal is better than a bad deal.
However, as Ms Husain pointed out, under a no deal Brexit French fishermen would “lose out anyway” because there wouldn’t be automatic access to UK fishing waters.
Ms Loiseau told her: “Nobody wants a no deal, but we all know as well that the UK has much more to lose because the UK is asking for full access to the single market.
“We are ready to provide it with some conditions.”
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She continued: “We also want our fishermen to continue doing what they have for centuries.
“I am certain that with good faith and a lot of work there is light and we can work on an agreement.
“The only question is the political will of the British Government.”
Half the catch in France’s northern ports comes from British waters, and three quarters of Britain’s catch is sold to the EU.
Therefore a no deal Brexit could risk the livelihoods of fishermen on both sides of the Channel.
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