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Tony Abbott, the former Australian Prime Minister who now works as an adviser to the UK Board of Trade, told Mr Johnson to focus on “climate initiatives” such as the UN climate summit, rather than in negotiating trade deals. He added that Australia had been “languishing” with trade negotiations with China, Japan and South Korea when he became prime minister of Australia in 2013. Mr Abbott said: “They’d been languishing largely because particularly under the former government the negotiators had been dare I say it, a little too preoccupied with labour standards, with environmental standards. “All these are important, I don’t for a second minimise them, but in the end a trade deal is about trade.”
Elsewhere, French officials representing President Emmanuel Macron have suggested the shock of a no deal especially on fishing could have an immediate “devastating effect” on the industry.
They stressed fishing is “particularly sensitive” in France as nearly 30 percent of the EU’s hexagonal fishing is carried out there.
France’s President Emmanuel Macron retains a hard fishing stance (Image: GETTY)
One French diplomat said: “The priority for the French is to have the lowest possible impact to keep access to English territorial waters.”
They added this meant Michel Barnier had to represent the interests of all major EU coastal states especially France “effectively.”
But a Whitehall official close to the negotiations told Express.co.uk: “We’re determined to reach a reasonable deal which respects UK sovereignty, we’re not giving into French demands.”
EU Commission accounts seen by Express.co.uk also suggest the European fish industry mobilises around 107,000 jobs in fishing, 80,000 in aquaculture and 100,000 in processing.
According to the accounts, this generates £3.3 billion pounds in turnover per year.
Since the UK formally left the European Union back in January, Britain and Spain are facing a decisive phase of technical negotiations on Gibraltar’s future.
As diplomatic tensions rise, there has been a significant increase of military activity on the Rock.
This week, the HMS Kent – a 133-metre-long Duke-class frigate – left the British naval base to carry out “surface exercises with high-speed manoeuvres” in waters adjacent to the Rock.
Following this, the HMS Dragon, a latest generation Daring-class air defence destroyer and 155 metres in length, also entered Gibraltar.
Back in September, the military exercise known as ‘Gibraltar Strike’ took place and included “the practice of rope jumping from helicopters and urban combat training”.
In a statement, the Royal Navy said: “Covid restrictions are limiting many of the staple fixtures of a visit to the Rock largely to a re-fuel/re-supply stop.
“But there will be the opportunity for the Royal Marines to stretch their legs for the first time on this deployment,
“Gibraltar Strike includes abseiling from helicopters and urban combat training making use of the facilities/ranges on the Rock as the Royal Marines continue their transition to Future Commando Force.”
Boris Johnson has warned that it is “far from certain” that Britain will manage to get a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels in time for the end of the year.
Negotiations have been continuing this week in Brussels between the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his UK counterpart Lord David Frost.
Speaking to Jonathan Saxty on Brexit Watch, Sir John Redwood said: “We make our own decisions on the matters that are essential to our sovereignty and the exercise of our freedoms under Brexit.
“I think in a way the European Union has repudiated the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration which was a parallel important statement of the two parties at the same time.
“The political declaration said we know in the withdrawal agreement a lot of issues haven’t been settled, we’re going to have a negotiating period to settle them.
“But we can tell you now what the settlement is roughly going to look like.
“It’s going to centre around a free trade agreement that will be the core of the relationship.
“The UK has tabled free trade agreements for their approval or amendment and until recently they refused to talk about them at all.
“That was bad faith so the UK now has to look after itself and exercise its sovereignty and parliament enacted in the EU withdrawal act.”
Michel Barnier (Image: Getty)
2:15pm update: NI businesses fearing Brexit
The UK Government has left Northern Ireland businesses suffering “frustration, anxiety and fear” due to Brexit uncertainty, Labour has said.
Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Louise Haigh said “thousands of businesses still do not know the bare basics” of the trading regime at the end of the year, while Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker said the Government is helping traders “prepare for the end of the transition period”.
1:30pm update: Organised crime an issue for Irish Border over Brexit deal
Northern Ireland’s Justice Minister has urged that a Brexit deal be agreed, warning of a potential “organised crime bonanza”.
Naomi Long described “huge uncertainty” for justice agencies with just weeks to go until the end of the transition period.
She singled out extradition as a particular area of concern, telling a Westminster committee that the justice system could be left using 1950s mechanisms for extradition.
12:45pm update: Tony Abbott claims there is ‘eagerness’ for a trade deal
Former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott has said there is an “eagerness” on both sides to secure a UK-Australia free trade deal before Christmas.
Mr Abbott, who now acts as an adviser to the UK Board of Trade, said they hoped to get a deal with no tariffs and no quotas “as quickly as we can”.
12pm update: EU in ‘last moments’ to secure a trade deal
Britain and the European Union are in the last moments to reach a trade deal that would regulate their relationship after Britain’s transition period ends on Jan 1, 2021, the EU’s Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said earlier today.
Dombrovskis would not speculate about any deadlines for ending the trade talks, saying the only deadline that could not be moved was Jan 1, 2021, when Britain’s transition period after its exit from the EU earlier this year ends.
11:15am update: Fisheries boss speaks out
Speaking about the current Brexit talks, Secretary-General of the Regional Committee for Maritime Fisheries and Marine Breeding in Brittany Jacques Doudet, said: “It still too early to say that there will be no agreement.
“It should not be excluded that they will succeed even at the last minute. Everything is possible.”
10:30am update: Landmark flight deal agreed
The UK and the US have agreed that commercial flights between the countries can continue after the Brexit transition period ends, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps signed a new bilateral air services agreement to secure the deal.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo signed on behalf of the US.
Flights between the UK and the US currently operate under an agreement between the European Union and the US, but the transition periods ends on December 31st.
Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney (Image: Getty)
9:45am update: UK should follow Norway’s lead on fishing stocks
British fishermen should follow Norway’s practice of landing at least 80 percent of fish stocks in UK waters as it prepares to take back control from the EU.
A study from the University of Highlands and Islands National Marine Unit backed by a Fishing chief shows Britain should copy Norway’s approach in taking back control from January 2021.
Norway, which controls its own waters, is believed to land 84 per cent of the fish and shellfish caught in its waters, while for Iceland the figure is 95 per cent.
9am update: EU officials to update Bloc on UK talks on Friday
EU negotiators are due to update envoys of the bloc’s 27 member states on the latest in trade talks with Britain at 0700 GMT on Friday, two EU diplomatic sources have said.
Brexit update has been added to the agenda of EU Brussels ambassadors meeting but the sources said the negotiating team of Michel Barnier could still cancel the closed-door briefing depending on how talks with the UK are going.
8:15am update: Trade deal in the balance, Sharma hints
Britain hopes to get a Brexit trade deal but the European Union must understand that it is now dealing with a sovereign nation, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said this morning.
He said: “I hope that we will end up with a free trade agreement.
“We have made progress but there is still some way to go and we need to make sure that the EU understands that the UK is a sovereign nation and that’s the basis on which our arrangement with the EU is in the future.”
7:30am update: Security warning in event of a No-Deal Brexit
Losing access to criminal databases under a no deal Brexit would have a “major operational impact” for police, senior officers have warned.
The UK could face a “security downgrade” in January if there is no negotiated outcome on a Brexit deal in the next few weeks, according to the Commons Home Affairs Committee.
Committee chairman Yvette Cooper cited “extremely serious” and “troubling” letters she had received from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) on the subject.