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UK Minister for Trade Lord Francis Maude revealed this morning that Emmanuel Macron has “difficulty” facing the reality of the Brexit talks. He exposed the level of chaotic infighting inside Brussels on fisheries as France refuses to compromise on access to UK waters. Speaking with Sky News’ Ian King, Lord Maude explained that Emmanuel Macron had to “sort out” the problem of “a very aggressive fishing industry in France”.
Lord Maude said: “On fisheries, it must have been apparent from the very outset that one of things that the UK would want to do as part of Brexit would be to regain more control over its waters in terms of fisheries.”
Sky host Ian King rebuked: “But Francis, why are we prepared to die in a ditch over the fishing industry?
“It’s total turnover is less than that of Harrods Department Store.
“Surely we won’t risk a no deal Brexit just because of fisheries?”
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Lord Maude responded: “I think there is a deal to be done. You have two elements – the amount of access the EU fisheries has to UK waters, and the other is time.
“The French insistence that access to UK waters remains completely unchanged from the present arrangements is completely unrealistic.
“In reality, all the other EU leaders know that, and in his deep heart, President Macron must know that.
“But he has a problem of a very aggressive fishing industry in France, and he is under the cosh with that. But that’s his problem to sort out.
“And it is the problem of the other 26 member-states who will not want this deal to be broken on the back of French insistence of absolutely no change at all to fisheries.”
This comes amid growing pressure on France from inside the EU to drop its hardline fishing demands.
There is panic among member-states that Emmanuel Macron’s stubborn fishing stance could scupper hopes of a Brexit deal.
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The row over fisheries remains one of the biggest stumbling blocks in finding a post-Brexit deal in the coming weeks.
One senior diplomat said Angela Merkel is expected to warn President Macron to back down or risk losing all access to British waters.
However, Paris has repeatedly insisted it will stick to its hard line and threatened to block a deal over fishing.
Europe minister Clement Beaune said: “The British want their waters back and this, they believe, gives them leverage.
“But they forget that for everything else they are negotiating on, they have a lot more to ask than to offer.”
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