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Fishing boss lashes out at Brexit trade deal for ‘sacrificing’ industry

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Brexit: Fishing industry was 'sacrificed' by government says Deas

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The fishing agreement within Boris Johnson’s landmark Brexit trade deal was “bitterly disappointing”, according to the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO). Chief Executive Barrie Deas has explained it is a “zero-sum game” for fishers following Brexit. Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Deas said: “Shifting from being in the Commons Fisheries policy to being an independent coastal state and if what was agreed in the TCA reflected the change in that legal status, we would expect turbulence for some time because you’re moving to a completely new equilibrium.

“It’s a zero sum game of quotas and access.

“But the reality is that we didn’t get what we wanted.

“The fishing industry was bitterly disappointed by the TCA at Christmas and we very much felt that our Government has sacrificed the fishing industry for wider national objectives such as, the trade agreement.”

It comes as France is threatening to push for EU legal action against Britain if it does not show a “sign of goodwill” in the post-Brexit fishing row by a Friday deadline set by the EU, while the European Commission has said it expects the dispute to be resolved by midnight.

France’s European Affairs Minister, Clement Beaune, echoed earlier threats to ask the European Commission to launch legal proceedings against the UK if it failed to grant more licences to French fishermen.

But he also suggested the talks could be extended past the deadline as long as the UK shows goodwill.

Mr Beaune told France Info radio: “We won’t get all the licences that we have a right to by tonight.

“If the British say today ‘we’ll give you – and this isn’t a scientific number – a few dozen extra licences as a gesture of good faith to show that the dialogue is bearing fruit and we’re interested in continuing,’ we’ll take that into account and make an evaluation with the European Commission and perhaps we’ll continue.”

Brexit: France hails Guernsey decision on fishing licences

But if Britain refuses to budge on the roughly 100 outstanding licences, France will ask the commission at the weekend to announce the launch of legal proceedings, Mr Beaune said.

He said: “A legal procedure does not just involve papers and courts, it’s also measures, for example customs measures, that Europe can take collectively to tell the British in certain sectors ‘since you do not respect the agreement, some of your products are not recognised’.”

Mr Beaune also accused the Prime Minister of trying to isolate France in the row.

He said: “(Boris Johnson) told himself he could isolate the French and divide the Europeans. He didn’t manage and we have re-mobilised.”

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The European Commission has said the dispute must be settled by December 10 – but Downing Street said on Thursday it did not recognise the cut-off point.

Mr Beaune said the UK Government’s comment was “surprising”.

“It’s not really a sign of trust,” he said.

Meanwhile, the European Commission suggested talks could still conclude on Friday.

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