Raab: EU needs to show 'flexibility and pragmatism' to get Brexit deal

29 November 2020, 12:29 | Updated: 29 November 2020, 13:06

By Kate Buck

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said it is a "point of principle" Britain has control over its fisheries, as we head into what could be the final week of Brexit talks with the EU.

Speaking on LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday, Mr Raab said: "I don't think it's unreasonable for the British Government, given the commitments made and as we leave the EU as an independent state, that we just like any other member of the international community, we have control over our fisheries and our waters."

The row over fisheries has threatened to derail talks, with significant gaps being said to remain on the bloc's access to UK fishing waters when the transition period ends on 31 December.

"If that point of principle is accepted by the EU, of course we want to be pragmatic, we understand the need for transition in relation of quotas, we understand the equities that France and other nations with fishing communities," Mr Raab added.

"But I think the EU need to accept that point of principle, that as an independent coastal state that we have control over our own fisheries.

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Britain has urged the EU to concede on fishing rights for a deal to be struck
Britain has urged the EU to concede on fishing rights for a deal to be struck. Picture: PA

"Insisting that we only have control over 18% of the fish within those waters is not consistent with that.

"I think we need to see some flexibility and pragmatism on their side."

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier was in London this weekend for talks with his UK counterpart Lord David Frost.

Following their exchange, Downing Street said a lot of work still remains to be done despite progress being made across many areas.

Reports last week suggested that Mr Barnier recently said Europe could accept a 15-18 per cent cut in its share of fishing rights in UK waters, but British officials were said to have immediately rejected the offer.

A government source said: "These figures are risible, and the EU side know full well that we would never accept this.

"There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalise the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation."

The government has repeatedly said it is willing to end negotiations without a deal if the EU refuses to budge, with talks having been deadlocked for months over fishing rights and other issues.

They include the governance of any deal and the "level playing field" conditions aimed at preventing unfair competition by cutting standards or increasing state subsidies.

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But ahead of what No 10 said could be the final week of negotiations, a source close to the talks said: "Over the coming days we will continue to negotiate with creativity and intensity.

"We hope that the EU will come with some fresh thinking because what we've seen so far doesn't cut it. They must understand that we are not going to sell out our sovereignty."

Mr Barnier arrived in London on Friday night telling reporters that he would continue to work with "patience and determination" to reach an agreement.

Face-to-face negotiations were paused earlier this month after one of his team tested positive for coronavirus, but in-person discussions resumed on Saturday morning.