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UK Threatens 'Zero Access' to British Waters for EU Fishing Boats If Trade Deal Falls Through

© AP Photo / MICHEL SPINGLERFrench fishing boats (File)
French fishing boats (File) - Sputnik International
While several British Royal Navy gunboats reportedly are in readiness to start denying EU trawlers access to UK waters, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez says she thinks the move is "all playing to the gallery".

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has recently outlined certain potential consequences of a No-Deal Brexit, that involve barring EU fishing boats from operating in British waters.

According to the Daily Mail, Raab has declared that four Royal Navy gunboats stand ready to bar EU trawlers access to British waters starting 1 January if trade talks break down.

"The bottom line is actually if we do leave on WTO terms we'll be an independent coastal state. Of course we're going to enforce our waters around and whatever else," he said during his appearance on Ridge on Sunday. "And of course for the French and others, that will mean - you know, forget those outlandish terms that they were asking of us - their fishing industries would have zero access guaranteed".

Raab's remarks come as fishing in UK waters remains one of the "sticking points in the free trade talks that are on the brink of collapse," the newspaper notes, adding that ministers also consider "beefing-up Navy powers in legislation to authorise them to board vessels and arrest fishermen found to be contravening post-Brexit rules."

On 13 December, however, the EU and the UK have announced that they "will go the extra mile" finally to clinch a post-Brexit trade agreement, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson pointing out that although the two sides were "still very far apart on some key things... where there's life, there's hope we're going to keep talking to see what we can do."

An electronic billboard displays a British government information message advising business to prepare for the Brexit, in London, Britain December 4, 2020. REUTERS/Toby Melville - Sputnik International
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Meanwhile, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez has reportedly said she thinks the aforementioned decision to deploy Royal Navy gunboats to patrol British waters is "all playing to the gallery".

"I think what would be more responsible is to sit down and agree what kind of relationship does the UK want with the European Union on fishing, again understanding that on this, like on the rest [of the issues], there are things for the UK to win, things for the EU to win - we just have to find this middle point," she said.

Gonzalez also remarked that the relatively small size of the fishing industry in the UK makes it somewhat hard for her to understand why this issue has become such a sticking point in the talks.

"Fishing in the UK is 6,000 vessels employing 12,000 workers - that's the magnitude of the problem, so I have difficulties understanding why we cannot agree to a landing zone on this," she said.
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