A view of fishing boats and a net in the coastal town of Macduff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Britain. File photo/Reuters
Gulf Today Report
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was likely to complete its EU exit in three weeks without a trade deal as four Royal Navy patrol ships will be ready from January 1 to help Britain protect its fishing waters in case of a no-deal Brexit.
The Guardian newspaper reported on Friday that the 80-metre-long vessels will have the power to stop, check and impound all European Union fishing boats operating within Britain's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which can extend 200 miles (320 km) from shore, the report said, citing naval sources.
Current arrangements will end on Dec. 31 when Britain's Brexit transition period concludes, said the newspaper report. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday that Britain was likely to complete its exit from the EU without a trade deal.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures to the media. File photo
The Ministry of Defence “has conducted extensive planning and preparation to ensure that defence is ready for a range of scenarios at the end of the transition period,” a spokesman said.
“This preparation includes a standby package of 14,000 personnel to ensure that we are ready to support other government departments and authorities over the winter period, including with the EU transition, COVID-19 and potential severe weather events,” the spokesman said in an email to Reuters.
The 80-metre-long vessels will have the power to stop, check and impound all European Union fishing boats operating within Britain's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which can extend 200 miles (320 km) from shore.
The Guardian newspaper reported earlier that two vessels will be deployed at sea with two on standby in case EU fishing boats enter the EEZ.
Britain quit the European Union in January but remains an informal member until Dec. 31 - the end of a transition period during which it has remained in the EU single market and customs union.
There are concerns about possible skirmishes between British and foreign fishing if no trade deal is reached, with existing transitional rules that give EU boats access to British waters set to expire at the end of the year.
A French minister said on Thursday that France would compensate its fishermen and take other measures to help them if talks for a post-Brexit trade deal collapse, in an effort to avoid skirmishes at sea between French and British boats.
We’ve all got bigger things on our minds right now than Brexit. Wasn’t it supposed to “get done” in January? There’s a pandemic on, after all. Why should anyone care about some abstruse discussions about trade in Brussels?
Small fishing firms have largely failed to export their goods to Europe after the post-Brexit introduction of catch and health certificates, customs declarations and higher transport costs made trade too expensive and too slow for EU buyers.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has set a deadline for dispute with France to be resolved before the UK moves ahead with legal action. Truss hit out at the French for behaving "unfairly" and accused them of operating outside the terms of the Brexit trade deal.
Opposition parties launched rival campaigns to topple Prime Minister Boris Johnson and stop him taking Britain out of the European Union without a deal, illustrating fractures in the anti-Brexit movement that make neither scheme likely to succeed.
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