The two sides began crunch talks earlier this week in what promises to be an intense and bruising ninth-months of back-and-forth post-Brexit negotiations. But deep cracks in talks are already starting to appear, with huge disagreements between the UK and European Union over demands for what they want in the final agreement. Boris Johnson is pushing for a comprehensive Canada-style deal – which would eliminate most import taxes but still require some border checks – as well as demands over fishing, state subsidies and standards.
But the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has ruled this out, claiming it would not be suitable for Britain due to its close proximity and links to the continent.
He is instead demanding the UK signs up to a number of “level-playing field” rules set by Brussels – which Britain is refusing to follow.
One of the biggest sticking points is whether EU boats will have access to fish in British waters following the conclusion of the transition period.
Mr Johnson has insisted Britain will “take back control of our waters” and pledged to do everything he can to protect UK fishermen in trade talks.
But the EU has been left furious and is demanding access to British waters as part of any agreement, with French President Emmanuel Macron particularly vocal on the issue.
Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan highlighted this key issue, claiming it shows Brussels needs a lucrative trade agreement more than the UK does.
He told Express.co.uk: “It’s not a case of whether it can be agreed, it has to be agreed or there won’t be one. Each side of the negotiation wants to win more than they lose.
“If we don’t give the EU what they want with fisheries, why should they give us a FTA. The EU gains far more from a free trade agreement than the UK does.
If we give the EU what they want there, it would be handing over a whole deck of cards and wanting to have some nice cards back
“It’s not about what the UK wants, it’s about what the EU wants, which isn’t the case in terms of international law.
“We leave the EU, leave the Common Fisheries Policy and take full control over access to our waters – that’s the law.
“If we give the EU what they want there, it would be handing over a whole deck of cards and wanting to have some nice cards back.”
Mr Duguid added: “We are out of the EU – we have nothing to gain by hanging onto the EU and associated membership of the EU.
“Anything they suggest we have to gain defeats the purpose of us leaving. There has never been a trade agreement between the UK and EU, but that doesn’t make it impossible.”
The Scottish Conservative MP also backed the Prime Minister to secure a favourable FTA with Brussels before the end of the transition period of December 31.
But several EU figureheads, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and chief Brexit Michel Barnier have warned the short timeframe makes it impossible for a full agreement to be signed in 2020.
Mr Duguid said: “We know for sure we have left. We have entered upon negotiations for a FTA with the EU.
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“The recent publication by the UK Government of our negotiating objectives brings ever more certainty to the situation.
“It’s not over until it’s over but at least the endless wrangling and game playing in the UK Parliament has stopped.
“There has never been a trade agreement between the UK and EU, but that doesn’t make it impossible.”
Mr Duguid also lashed out at the “parliamentary shenanigans” from opposition parties that have delayed Britain’s departure from the EU by almost a year, insisting the transition period will end in December.
He added: “We should have been in this position, entering a transition period on March 29, 2019 but due to the parliamentary shenanigans from opposition parties and admittedly not having the majority in Parliament, we are a year behind where we should be.
“Whether you want Brexit or you don’t want Brexit, we now know Brexit is happening.
“We have left the EU, we are in the transition period and that will end in December 2020.”
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