Brexit outrage: Emmanuel Macron's plot to 'keep UK in customs union' exposed

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Brexit trade talks are in a state of stalemate, with the UK looking to gain independent control of its fishing grounds and leave the Common Fisheries Policy. The agreement allowed EU vessels to fish on British shores freely, but now the UK has left the bloc, these countries may now lose their access. One country concerned about this is France, making French President Emmanuel Macron threaten increased integration with the EU if Boris Johnson doesn’t backtrack on his fisheries promise.

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In November 2018, Macron said the UK will be trapped in a customs union after Brexit unless Downing Street offered European fishermen full access to British waters.

At the time, Prime Minister Theresa May had secured a withdrawal agreement with Brussels that included a backstop.

The policy was designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, keeping the UK in the customs union after a 21-month transition period if a wider trade deal was not ready to come into force.

Mr Macron said that, without a favourable fisheries deal, the UK would be stuck in this backstop and therefore the customs union.

Brexit outrage: Emmanuel Macron's plot to 'keep UK in customs union' exposed

Brexit news: Macron and Johnson have clashed over Brexit (Image: getty)

Brexit outrage: Emmanuel Macron's plot to 'keep UK in customs union' exposed

Brexit news: Macron said the UK risked remaining in the customs union (Image: getty)

He added: “We as 27 have a clear position on fair competition, on fish, on the subject of the EU’s regulatory autonomy, and that forms part of our lines for the future relationship talks.

“It is a lever, because it is in our mutual interest to have this future relationship. I can’t imagine that the desire of Theresa May or her supporters is to remain for the long term in a customs union, but to define a proper future relationship which resolves this problem.

“We will concentrate our efforts in order to obtain access to the British waters before the end of the transition period. And of course all of our fishermen will be protected.”

Macron has come under pressure from French fishermen during Brexit talks, as many fear for their businesses without British fishing grounds.

READ MORE: EU fisheries panic as Belgium fears ‘post-Brexit crash’

Brexit outrage: Emmanuel Macron's plot to 'keep UK in customs union' exposed

Brexit news: Johnson wants independent control of UK waters (Image: getty)

Boulogne-sur-Mer, a city where a key French fishing port is located, is home to many of these fishermen, with one claiming they will have “no Plan-B” should Mr Johnson and Brussels fail to reach a deal.

One told the Financial Times in January: “[Brexit] is death. I have no Plan B. I have €1million of debt. What am I supposed to do? Put a bullet in my head?”

France is one of many nations dependent on British fishing grounds.

Between 2012 and 2016 for example, France caught 120,000 tonnes of fish worth £171million, according to Marine Management Organisation figures.

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Brexit outrage: Emmanuel Macron's plot to 'keep UK in customs union' exposed

Brexit news: Countries that fish in UK waters (Image: getty)

Brexit outrage: Emmanuel Macron's plot to 'keep UK in customs union' exposed

Brexit news: French fishermen have pressured Macron (Image: getty)

Earlier this year, President Macron promised he would “fight” for his country’s fishermen during Brexit trade talks.

He said: “I want to tell our fishermen that I will fight for them. If we do not get the same access as today, we will seek compensation.

“I will not let our fishermen pay for a British vote they could do nothing about.”


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