Oh dear, Brussels! EU trade at risk as MP warns ‘We will not back down on fishing!’

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Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie has warned the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier that the UK will come out victorious for British fisheries. He went on to claim both sides will reach a trade deal despite Mr Barnier saying a deal looked “unlikely” and that the two sides remained at a stalemate. The Brussels and UK chief negotiators have aired mixed messages over the likelihood of a post-Brexit trade deal following the conclusion of their latest London-round of talks.

Speaking to BBC’s World at One, Mr Bowie said: “We have made it very clear that our determination is to become an independent coastal state again with our seat at the table when its comes to negotiating access to British waters.

“That remains the Government position and we are not going to back down on that.

“I don’t think anyone fully expected there to be a breakthrough in the negotiations at this stage.

“Both sides are talking, negotiations continue which is a good thing. They haven’t broken down.

“Our determination is to get a victory for our fishermen which has been one of the sector’s most hurt by our membership with the EU.”

He added: “I think there will be a trade deal and I’ve got confidence in our negotiators to get a great deal for our fishermen and all the other sectors.”

It comes as David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, meanwhile confirmed there was a continued impasse but struck a more hopeful tone in his media appearance following intensified discussions.

He said an “agreement can still be reached in September” but called for the EU to recognise it was in discussions with an “independent state”.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Mr Barnier warned the “time for answers is quickly running out”.

“By its current refusal to commit to the condition of open and fair competition, and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, the UK makes a trade agreement at this point unlikely,” he said.

But a senior UK Government source involved in the negotiations, when asked about Mr Barnier’s comments, said they were a “truism” given the current situation but argued “things can move forward”.

The UK’s transition period for leaving the EU is due to lapse at the end of December, and both sides have said any trade deal needs to be concluded by October in order to be ratified.

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Mr Frost told broadcasters that “considerable gaps remain in the most difficult areas”.

But he added: “Despite all the difficulties, on the basis of the work we have done in July, my assessment is that agreement can still be reached in September, and that we should continue to negotiate with this aim in mind.”

The former Foreign Office official warned, however, that without movement on the most significant issues, a no-deal scenario remained an option.

He said: “We have made progress in areas like trade, trade of goods and services, transport, social security cooperation, EU programmes, participation and so on, which is good.

“But nevertheless big differences do remain, in particular with the familiar questions of the… so-called level playing field and fisheries policy.”

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