Thursday, 29 Oct 2020

EU warning: Fishing compromise to break deadlock slapped down – ‘WE will decide!’

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Ian Gorst hit out at the suggestion that Jersey’s waters could be sacrificed by the UK in a bid to strike a trade pact with the bloc. He was responding to a report by The Telegraph which said the EU had put forward the idea of instating different fishing rights around the Channel Island to those around the UK.

The bloc’s negotiating team led by Michel Barnier were said to be keen to give French and Dutch fishermen greater access to the islands’ coastal waters than they are likely to enjoy around the UK after December 31.

Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, which are not part of the UK.

The islands between England and France are self-governing dependencies of the Crown.

Mr Gorst said he believed there may have been a misunderstanding among negotiators when it came to the topic of the islands’ fishing rights.

He said: “If we start with the basics, the UK is not in a position to offer rights to Jersey territorial waters.

“Jersey will decide whether it is party to any deal that the UK might negotiate with the EU, either on their own behalf or on our behalf.

“If you think about it logically, it’s not possible for the UK to offer up our waters to the EU, but of course the [trade in] goods and fishing issues are fairly central to the negotiations for the UK, to us and the other Crown Dependencies [Guernsey and the Isle of Man].

“The process is that we discuss with the UK what we would like, we agree texts that they then submit to the EU and then they have conversations about that text and revert to us.”

The latest proposal comes on the back of numerous suggestions to break the deadlock over fishing rights.

The topic, along with state aid, are among the most contentious issues in trade talks.

On September 28 the ninth round of discussions between Mr Barnier and the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator David Frost will kick off.

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All eyes will be on the pair as they meet in Brussels just two weeks before Boris Johnson’s mid-October deadline to strike a pact.

On Friday the Brexit saga took an unexpected turn with the resignation of UK special envoy Amal Clooney.

The top human rights lawyer quit in protest over the Prime Minister’s controversial Internal Market Bill.

She called the Government’s decision to override parts of the Withdrawal Agreement “lamentable”.

In a letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, she said she had no alternative but to resign after he made clear the Government would change its position.

Last week, Mr Johnson compromised on the Bill in the face of mounting opposition from members of his own party.

His partial climbdown came after tow days of behind closed doors negotiations with Tory MPs.

In a bid to stave off a potential party revolt, he agreed to grant lawmakers a vote about when to invoke controversial powers in the Bill that risk breaking international law.

His compromise came hours after the resignation of Lord Keen, the UK government’s law officer for Scotland, over the proposed legal framework.

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