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The UK is intensifying its pressure on the EU to surrender its demands on fisheries, as time runs out for a Brexit trade deal. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay told Kay Burley this morning that any deal struck between the two sides would “reflect British control” over its own waters. This comes with the deadlock over fishing as the last “major sticking point” in the trade talks.
Kay Burley said: “On Brexit, there seems to be a landing zone on state aid now. Fisheries is now the major sticking point. Are we going to get a deal?”
Mr Barclay responded: “I hope so – it’s in both sides interests to have a deal.
“But that deal needs to reflect that we are leaving the EU and that we are regaining our control of our fisheries.
“It was a key issue for many of your viewers during the Brexit debate and it’s important the deal reflects that. I hope both sides can come to a deal though.”
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Negotiations stalled last week after a summit in Brussels where EU leaders called on the UK to “make the necessary moves” towards a deal.
The UK side agreed to resume talks after Mr Barnier said “compromises on both sides” were needed in a speech on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Boris Johnson’s official spokesman acknowledged that “time is now very short” for the two sides to reach a deal.
The BBC’s Brussels correspondent Katya Adler revealed that “a number of EU figures now admit it was a misstep” for EU leaders “to sound tough on Brexit” last week at the EU summit.
She added: “Mr Barnier openly acknowledged to the European Parliament that compromises would have to be made by the EU as well, if a deal could still be reached with the UK.
“In truth, it’s an open secret that the EU has to compromise, as the UK was surely aware. Germany’s Angela Merkel has said as much.
“And Michel Barnier has pushed EU leaders for ages to give in on their fishing demands. In Brussels, everyone knows, that is where they will have to concede most of all.
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EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has reportedly admitted fisheries remains the only concerning issue remaining on the negotiating table with the UK.
Mr Barnier is understood to have told EU officials he “wasn’t worried about anything else but the fish” during a private dinner earlier in the week.
One EU diplomat told Reuters: “Fish is now the thing to tackle. The other elements seem doable more or less.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly led the hardline EU stance on access to British waters in the aftermath of Brexit.
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