Ahead of a fresh round of talks next week, Boris Johnson spokesman said the EU chief negotiator had misrepresented British proposals to try to divert attention from the bloc’s “unrealistic and unprecedented” demands. His outburst came in response to a speech by Mr Barnier earlier this week claiming the UK had to surrender sovereignty over the fish in British coastal waters to Brussels to have any hope of securing a trade agreement.
The Brussels diplomat also claimed Mr Johnson wanted the UK to quit the EU but keep many of the alleged benefits of membership.
In a briefing to Westminster journalists yesterday, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Michel Barnier’s comments are a misleading representation of our proposals aimed at deflecting scrutiny from the EU’s own positions, which are unrealistic and unprecedented.
“For our part, we have been consistently clear that we are seeking a relationship that respects our sovereignty and has a free trade agreement at its core similar to those the EU has already agreed with like-minded countries.
“The EU have refused to engage with our proposals and the document which we’ve brought to the table, insisting that we must accept continuity with EU fisheries policy and disregarding the UK’s status as an independent coastal state.
“We need more realism from the EU on the scale of the change that results from our leaving the EU.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Image: WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto)
Mr Johnson was seeking an agreement on fishing rights similar to the EU arrangements with Norway, which negotiates fishing quotas annually.
“We’ve been clear from the outside that once we leave the EU we will once again become an independent coastal state and it will be for us to determine who fishes in the UK’s waters.
“We have put forward proposals on fishing and we have provided a legal