BREXIT FURY: Britain warns it will DEFEND waters from EU trawlers if trade talks collapse
GEORGE EUSTICE has threatened to fight the EU over fishing trawlers if Brexit trade talks collapse.
Brexit: Fisherman fires warning over future of fishing industry
Crucial Brexit negotiations are set to come to an end this month, two months before the transition period is over.
But fishing remains one of the key sticking points to a deal.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised not bow to the demands which would allow EU trawlers to maintain permanent access to British waters.
And now, environment secretary George Eustice has said minister have put in place a “five-fold increase in our enforcement capacity” in preparation for a potential stand-off with EU trawlermen.
When asked if Britain would defend its waters, he said: “Yes, we are.
“And in fact, the main lesson of the Cod War was it’s much easier to protect your waters against access from overseas vessels than it is to try to defend a notion of an historic access that’s no longer available to us.”
George Eustice threatens major standoff with EU
Boris Johnson promises not to bow to EU demands
Mr Eustice is referring to the 1970s ‘Cod Wars’, which saw British trawlers clash with Icelandic vessels in an attempt to maintain fishing rights in the North Atlantic.
It is believed by the start of next year, the ‘cod squad’ of Royal Navy patrol crafts will have doubled from three to six.
Last week, the UK chief negotiator David Frost said the “outlines of a deal” were visible, even though the process could last into next month.
Mr Johnson has said he could walk away from the negotiating table if no agreement is truck before October 15.
UK Brexit chief negotiator David Frost
However, Mr Eustice believes the crucial talks could continue for another three weeks.
He told the Mail: “We’ve really got to have some kind of heads of terms understanding about whether there’s a landing zone by the middle of October.
“And we really can’t let things stretch on much beyond the first week of November because businesses need to know where they stand.”
A source added Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, believes an agreement might not be signed until early next month.
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During an interview this week, Mr Johnson appealed to European leaders to come to terms.
He told the BBC: “I hope that we get a deal, it’s up to our friends.
“They’ve done a deal with Canada of a kind that we want, why shouldn’t they do it with us?
“We’re so near, we’ve been members for 45 years.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen
“It’s all there, it’s just up to them.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said it would be good to have a deal but “not at any price”.
She said: “It is good to have a deal, but not at any price.
“We have made progress on many, many different fields but of course the most difficult ones are still completely open.
“But overall, where there is a will, there is a way, so I think we should intensify the negotiations.
“We are running out of time - around 100 days to the end of the year - so it is worth stepping up now.”