Boris Johnson has sent a warning to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron after France threw the Brexit talks into chaos by hardening the EU’s fishing demands at the last minute. In response, Environment Secretary George Eustice announced that the capacity of the Royal Navy fisheries protection fleet has been increased to police British waters. He said that this increase will “stop EU boats coming in to fish” amid in case an agreement is not reached with the EU.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Eustice was questioned by host Tom Swarbrick on the UK’s plan to fend off EU fishing fleets in case of a no deal.
Mr Eustice said: “We have a fisheries protection fleet as part of the Royal Navy – the oldest part of it.
“We also have a control centre in Newcastle that monitors every fishing vessel that is in our waters.”
Mr Swarbrick responded: “Have they been boosted? Have they got more numbers, and extra staff in case of a no deal?”
Mr Eustice said: “Yes, we have taken on two additional vessels to supplement the work that the Royal Navy do to increase capacity.
“It’s also the case the Navy have just put forward three new off-shore patrol vessels and have decided not to decommission the old ones at this point so there are some reserve capacity to draw on. “
The LBC host asked whether the increase was related to the fears that French fishermen will ignore a no deal Brexit and still attempt to fish in British waters.
Mr Swarbrick asked: “So, the Navy patrols the waters to stop the boats coming in to fish if we go to no deal?”
This comes after a dramatic hour-long phone call between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday evening.
Mr Eustice rejected Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney’s claims that it was “not credible” for Britain to be ready for a no deal Brexit.
He also indicated that the UK is not ready to budge on some of the “significant differences” identified by Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen in a phone call on Saturday – governance, fisheries and the level playing field on standards.
He said: “There are certain things we’ve been clear from the start that we cannot compromise on and that is our sovereignty as a nation, our ability to control our own laws, our ability to control access to our waters.”