UK to launch Navy over Brexit clash


Britain is preparing to launch Navy patrol boats to protect their fishing waters in the English Channel, as Brexit talks were on the verge of collapse.

The brinkmanship as the Sunday deadline for talks approaches has increased, with neither side willing to budge.

Germany was attempting to extend the talks further, but a bullish Boris Johnson has threatened to walk away without a deal if he does not get his way.

The UK wants to limit French fisherman from access to its waters, a key battleground for Emmanuel Macron.


The EU has been aghast at British demands to set its own taxes, pay rates and environmental standards, instead demanding a so-called level playing field.

Mr Johnson said that it was "very, very likely" that talks would fail, leaving both sides bracing for an economic bloodbath when a no-deal Brexit kicks in on January 1.

Mr Macron has said that he would not "give up my share of the cake", with 84 per cent of the French quota for cod coming from English waters.

Mr Johnson, who unsuccessfully flew to Brussels this week to iron out a deal, said the talks were not making progress.

"That's this kind of ratchet clause they've got in to keep the UK locked in to whatever they want to do in terms of legislation, which obviously doesn't work," he said.

"And then there is the whole issue of fish where we've got to be able to take back control of our waters. So there is a way to go. We're hopeful that progress can be made."


There were now fears that there would be clashes on the English Channel with French fishermen if the talks did not end in an agreement.

The British Navy was preparing to launch four patrol boats to check on French fishing vessels.

UK ministers told The Times they were prepared to impound their French boats, in what would be a major escalation not seen since the cod wars of the 1970s.

Germany pleaded for extra time on Friday night, with both sides appearing to be further apart.

Ireland has urged for a deal to be made, saying 97 per cent of it was already agreed.

The contentious Irish border problem has been solved, which in a twist actually makes it easier for the UK to leave without a deal.


There would be widespread disruption under that scenario, with up to 7000 trucks likely to be delayed from crossing the English Channel as their paperwork would need to be checked.

Children's toys were already at risk of not arriving in time for Christmas because of the delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But a no-deal Brexit would also likely hit food staples hard, with warnings of rising prices as a result.

European Commission president Ursual von der Leyen said "Positions remain apart on fundamental issues."

"Our negotiators are working; we will decide on Sunday whether we have the conditions for an agreement or not. One way or another in less than three weeks it will be new beginnings for old friends," she said.

Originally published as UK to launch Navy over Brexit clash

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