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Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels today for talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a bid to save any chance of a deal. The deadline for a deal to be met is fast approaching, and no deal quickly becomes a real possibility. The main disagreements relate to fishing rights, trade competition rules and how an agreement will be monitored.
This was sabotaged, however, after France said it would veto any deal it disagreed with, with the EU later demanding ten years of unhindered access to UK waters as price of a deal.
This was widely seen as being on France’s word, as the country enjoys a disproportionate share of fishing grounds, with around a quarter of its total catch coming from rich British waters.
Since Camp Leave won the historic vote in 2016, France has notably targeted Great Britain for its decision to take back power in Brussels.
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“A nation that cannot behead its queen is not trustworthy! ”
In addition, the cover of the left-wing newspaper Liberation featured an image of Mr Johnson on a zipline during the London 2012 Olympics, with the headline: “Good luck.”
The newspaper’s European correspondent, in a column, launched a sly blow to the English and Welsh, thanking them “from the bottom of their hearts” for voting to leave the EU.
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He called the result “a vote of incredible courage, which has politically devastated and will economically weaken your country – the rest of Europe can only be grateful”.
He went so far as to blame the UK for preventing the EU from reforming, and thanked Britain for “taking the risk of dividing your society, for a long time.”
Even top French politicians and those close to the Brexit deal negotiations broke protocol and mocked the UK.
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When Mr François wrote to Mr Barnier to ask the Frenchman to drop his “unreasonable demands”, Mr Barnier’s response was dripping with sarcasm.
He said: “All we are asking the UK to do is honor its commitments in the political declaration. ”
He added that an agreement was still possible, “despite the short time available, which is the choice of your government”.
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Following requests for access to fishing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a “compromise” on both sides to reach an agreement on the line.
The UK government has said the meeting between Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen may make it easier for officials to resume talks.
Still, reports suggest a deal may never be possible.
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And while Merkel said a Brexit deal is still possible, she insisted that the integrity of the Union’s single market must be respected.
Mr Johnson and his cabinet have started to tune in with the EU.
The Prime Minister yesterday withdrew elements of the Internal Market Bill that undermined the Withdrawal Agreement, signed into EU and UK law in January 2020.
He also proposed a three-year transition period for European fishing fleets to allow them to prepare for post-Brexit changes.