France has ignored threats to send Royal Navy combat ships to protect the Channel’s fishing waters, before the dreaded announcement that negotiations to avoid a no-deal Brexit have failed.
Boris Johnson is set to tell the country on Sunday that negotiations are plunging trade with the EU into turmoil in 19 days – although a decision to continue speaking is still possible.
Before the critical moment, the risk of clashes in the Channel was increasing, after confirmation that four additional patrol boats will be deployed to intercept EU vessels if necessary.
A spokesman for the UK government said it had already “scrambled warships to respond to threats of illegal fishing in our future sovereign waters”.
The exercise was part of ‘live’ planning, the spokesperson said, insisting the UK was ready for a no-deal with a plan that ‘plots every foreseeable scenario’ for the issues. post-December 31.
The combat ship plan was condemned as “absolutely irresponsible” by Tobias Ellwood, the Conservative Chairman of the Commons Defense Committee, but other Conservative MPs were in favor.
Manfred Webber, German MEP and leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, has revealed fears that both sides are on an increasingly dangerous path.
“The world is full of enemies of the European way of life, of our freedoms and our values. We must fight these enemies together rather than against each other, ”he tweeted.
But the move was ignored by the French government. “Keep calm and carry on,” said an Elysee official, using Britain’s famous wartime slogan.
The prospect of a no-deal Brexit loomed on Saturday, with the British government saying that negotiations had made little or no progress, which continued into the evening and were due to resume on Sunday morning.
A government source said: “Talks are continuing overnight, but as it stands, the offer on the EU table remains unacceptable. The Prime Minister is leaving no stone unturned in this process, but it is absolutely clear: any deal must be fair and respect the fundamental position that the UK will be a sovereign nation in three weeks.
Meanwhile, the great Conservative Chris Patten has said he “fears” for Britain’s future, calling the Prime Minister a “British nationalist” who has turned his back on Union defense traditions and international cooperation.
“What we are seeing is Boris Johnson on this runaway train of English exceptionalism and heaven knows where that will take us at the end,” said Lord Patten.
There has also been criticism of Mr Johnson and Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, for spending the evening at a Tory fundraiser, to celebrate ‘how we did Brexit’ in the election, he exactly one year ago.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, and his British counterpart David Frost spent the day discussing in Brussels, but with no apparent sign of a breakthrough.
No 10 was quick to insist he was ready for anything, at the end of the transition period, saying the EU Exit Operations Committee tasked with Brexit preparations s ‘was met more than 200 times.
The government said there were 900 additional border staff, seven internal inspection sites, a 24-hour border operations center, hotlines and an app for carriers would help ensure the country continues. to move.
“As with any major change, deal or no deal, there will be challenges and obstacles to overcome,” the spokesperson said.
“There will be new rules for travelers and traders, that would be the case with a free trade agreement – as it would be without an agreement.”