Brussels should take the UK's "very generous offer" on fisheries as part of a post-split trade deal, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has said.
Farage said the European Union (EU) should accept British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's proposal on Thursday that the quota for UK boats in territorial waters be doubled to half the catch, but allowing continued access to trawlers from the continent.
"For 40 years the EU fleet has been able to take advantage of us," Farage tweeted on Friday. "If Barnier rejects this then No Deal will be the only acceptable outcome."
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) September 4, 2020
But EU trade negotiators, led by France's Michel Barnier, immediately rejected Johnson's proposal claiming that it would mean one in three fishing crews would be unable to make a living.
Under the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) European fishing boats, including giant "super-trawlers", take three-quarters of the fish catch in UK waters. In the Celtic Sea between south-west England and southern Ireland, British fishermen only take a tenth of the haddock quota, compared to two-thirds for French boats.
But when the post-Brexit transition period ends on December 31 this year, the UK will take back control of its coastal waters and maritime Exclusive economic zone, a crescent-shaped expanse of sea some 1,000 miles long.
Later on Friday, Reuters reported a British source close to the talks who blamed the EU's insistence on the UK staying in the the CFP and continuing to follow EU rules against state aid to industry, and said Brussels still has not accepted the outcome of the 2016 referendum on leaving the bloc.
"We have been clear from the start that we are seeking a relationship that respects our sovereignty and which has a free trade agreement at its core, similar to the one the EU has with Canada," the source pointed out.
"We have also consistently tried to move discussions forwards but have been prevented from doing so by an EU which insists that everything must go at the pace of the most difficult issue."
"Their ask that we accept continuity with EU state aid and fisheries policy is simply not compatible with our status as a fully independent country," the source stressed. "The EU need to realise that what they’re asking for is at odds with what the British people voted for, twice, and not something we could accept."
Johnson said the EU should be sensible and give the UK the Canada-style free trade deal it seeks, but added" "We're ready for any eventuality" if talks break down.
"We will get through this," the PM said. "It's absolutely vital that our partners understand that the UK is going to do what we need to do, if we have to have an ... Australia-style solution then that is what we will achieve and we will prosper mightily one way or the other."
Australia and the EU have been negotiating a free trade agreement since 2018, but trade is currently governed by World Trade Organisation rules under 2008 EU-Australia Partnership Framework on trade and political issues.
"Sooner or later, the UK should clarify what they want," European Council President Charles Michel told reporters on Friday. "It's not possible to leave the European club and at the same time keep all the benefits."
"We have no certainty that we'll reach a deal. I hope it will be possible - but not at all cost," he added.
On Tuesday Barnier once again blamed the UK for the failure to make progress in the talks. "The Commission now worries the next negotiating round will end up with nothing," he said. "If the UK doesn’t move a bit on the state aid thing, we have a problem."