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In a bid to bring about an eleventh-hour breakthrough in deadlocked trade talks, Mr Barnier said Brussels would be willing to give between 15 and 18 percent of fish quota caught in UK waters by European boats back to Britain under a deal. His offer would be worth an estimated £105million (€117million).
John Balls, chairman of North Devon Fishermen’s Association, called the quota offer a “pathetic” attempt by the bloc to force the UK’s hand into a deal less than five weeks before the Brexit transition period expires.
Mr Balls told Express.co.uk: “15 and 18 percent? That’s rubbish! That’s an insult to the UK fishing industry.
“What I find bizarre is he is offering us a fish quota which is in our waters.
“If the French are moved out, if the Belgians are moved out, if the Spanish are moved out and everybody else who’s in the EU, if anybody else thinks they’re just going to come into the waters which are now owned and governed by the United Kingdom that is not going to happen.
“They will have to come to the UK Government and apply for a licence to fish within our waters. “Then we’ll worry about sorting what volume of fish they can take.”
Mr Balls suspected Mr Barnier was simply testing the waters to see the volume of quotas the EU could hold onto under any deal.
He dismissed the EU negotiator’s offer, saying it was a pathetic excuse for a fair and free trade deal between the bloc and its former member state.
Mr Balls added: “What Barnier is doing is he’s playing with the numbers.
“As things stand at the moment the UK has 30 percent of the quota and the EU vessels have 70 percent of the quota.
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“We would certainly be looking for a level playing field because if you said 15 percent of what we hold at the moment, it would only bring up to 45 percent.
“So the Europeans would still hold more quota in our waters than what the UK holds itself.
“That isn’t a deal anyway, it’s a non-starter. There’s no way that’s going to happen. It’s not generous at all. How can that be generous?”
“We want the full allocation of fish that swim in our waters. And then once we’ve got that, then it’s up to us who we allow to come into our waters to fish for that fish.”
Mr Barnier will travel to London this weekend to hold talks with Lord Frost as the December 31 transition deadline looms closer.
Responding to the reports, a UK Government source told Express.co.uk: “It’s derisory, there’s nothing more to say about it.”
Already, a draft trade agreement is said to be 95 percent complete.
If both sides manage to agree a deal, it would need the backing of national leaders in the European Council, and ratification from the European Parliament.
On the UK side, Mr Johnson is not expected to encounter any major difficulties when trying to pass a deal through Parliament.
This is thanks to the 80-strong majority he won in last December’s general election.
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