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Britain is on the brink of unshackling itself from the bloc without a Brexit deal as Brussels chiefs refuse to back down over their red lines. Both sides remain “miles apart” over fishing as the EU fails to budge over the UK’s ultimatum, RTE News has reported.
Europe Editor Tony Connelly tweeted: “It’s understood quite a few drafts have changed hands on this area, but no breakthrough yet.
“On fisheries, I’m told that both sides remain ‘miles apart’.”
Britain has repeatedly stated that, following Brexit and as a newly independent coastal state, it wants to be in control of its waters and fish.
European fishing vessels fish six times as much in UK waters as British vessels do in EU waters, which means the UK has leverage in the talks.
Mr Connelly said, despite the treaty running to 600 pages, “time is getting very tight”.
He added: “There is some talk of such a meeting happening on Wednesday this week – but nothing confirmed.
“Likewise there is talk of another Barnier briefing next Sunday. Either way, member states are wanting to know what is going on and what they will have to sign up to.
“That is why time is getting very tight and that is making everyone nervous. The treaty is so far running to some 600 pages, including annexes (compared to the EU’s original draft of 430 pages).
“That’s a lot of dense legal text for capitals to process, and for MEPs to digest.”
After nearly years of Brexit talks, the EU and Britain will this week make a last-ditch attempt to clinch a thin trade deal that would govern nearly a trillion dollars in annual imports and exports from 2021.
But with just days to go before the EU’s November 19 negotiation deadline, a Brexit no deal is edging closer as torturous talks go down to the wire with signs of an agreement nowhere in sight.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously warned he is prepared to exit the EU without a deal – meaning trade between the UK and bloc will be subject to tariffs set out by the World Trade Organisation.
Time is tight as any deal struck would be subject to ratification by EU member states, the European Parliament and the UK Parliament.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock this morning warned Britain’s red lines remained unchanged.
He told Sky News: “Our red lines haven’t changed and we’re preparing for whatever the outcome is.
“Of course our preference is to get a deal and that is open to the Europeans if they choose to make the progress that’s needed.”
However, Lord David Frost said his team was working hard to get an agreement.
He tweeted: “Arriving once again in Brussels shortly for another round of negotiations with EU and Michel Barnier this afternoon. I and our British team have been in talks almost every day since 22 October.
“We are working to get a deal, but the only one that’s possible is one that is compatible with our sovereignty and takes back control of our laws, our trade, and our waters. That has been our consistent position from the start and I will not be changing it.
“There has been some progress in a positive direction in recent days. We also now largely have common draft treaty texts, though significant elements are of course not yet agreed. We will work to build on these and get an overall agreement if we can.
“But we may not succeed. Either way, as the Prime Minister BorisJohnson made clear on 16 October, people and businesses must prepare for the change that is coming on 31 December, most of which happens whether there is a deal or not.”
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