Europe

Brexit deal on brink as Macron to ‘block progress at eleventh-hour’

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Emmanuel Macron warned yesterday that France will not accept a Brexit trade deal if it is not in the long term interests of his country. The defiant statement comes after months of deadlock, caused partially by the French President’s unwavering stance on fisheries and trade. Mr Macron’s defiance came after a meeting of 27 ambassadors, in which Paris hinted it could veto a trade deal with the UK. The French ambassador to the EU reportedly cautioned the bloc’s negotiator Michel Barnier against ceding too much ground.

The French were supported by Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. Mr Barnier is said to have evaded requests by member states to see key parts of the deal.

Wolfgang Munchau of EuroIntelligence told SpectatorTV last month how President Macron could veto an agreement and leave a UK-EU trade deal in jeopardy.

The journalist said: “The danger now is not the trade negotiators, they are doing a good job.

“The difficulty they have is to ensure when they come up with this trade agreement, Mr Johnson and Emmanuel Macron will do the right thing and not start to extend this and make another unreasonable demand.”

He added that Mr Macron, unlike Angela Merkel, has thrown domestic issues from his country into the talks via the fisheries debate.

Mr Munchau warned that Brexit talks “won’t be decided by the negotiators” and that “people in the EU are getting nervous” over last-minute interventions.

He continued: “They are nervous because they may have to ratify an 1800-page piece of text in a week.

“They may see things during the process, so even if things are agreed, ratification could be a very messy procedure.”

This means French President Macron could follow through and block a deal at the eleventh-hour.

However, Mr Munchau believes a compromise will be reached.

He added: “My reading of Macron’s position on fish is that he is merely putting up a fight, but in the end he will agree.

“If he didn’t do that others would do this and he has an election coming up in 2022. It would be a disaster if there wasn’t a deal for French fishermen.”

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen told Express.co.uk last month that the EU’s fishing demands have been “absurd”.

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He added: “It’s like someone renting a property off you, terminating the agreement, and then demanding they keep 80 percent of the back garden.

“Who is going to agree to that? That’s not how it works. It’s absurd.

“There is no court in the world the EU could go to that would uphold their right to keep our sovereign fishing grounds.”

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