Hotline for a Brexit deal: Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen regularly make secret phone calls to find a compromise on fishing
- Boris Johnson set up a "hotline" for Ursula von der Leyen in the last few days
- It is believed that couples have made regular secret phone calls over the past 48 hours
- Ms. von der Leyen is also said to have set up return channels to Merkel
The Brexit negotiators are making a “final push” for an agreement today as they compromise on fisheries.
Government sources confirmed that Boris Johnson has set up a "hotline" for European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen as both sides try to negotiate a deal before Christmas.
The couple is believed to have made regular secret phone calls for the past 48 hours.
Ms. von der Leyen is also said to have set up return channels to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the EU's power broker – and French President Emmanuel Macron, who is seen as the main obstacle to a deal on Downing Street.
Diplomatic sources revealed that the EU's chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, was not even informed of the contents of secret talks between the Prime Minister and Ms. von der Leyen on Monday evening – which suggests that he has been increasingly out in the last few days of negotiations the rudder is running.
To break the impasse, Prime Minister's Chief Negotiator David Frost has launched a new fishing offer that would allow EU trawlers to keep more of the fish they are currently catching in UK waters.
Government sources confirmed that Boris Johnson has set up a "hotline" for European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen as both sides try to negotiate a deal before Christmas
Mr Barnier told EU ambassadors yesterday that the offer was "unacceptable". But Ms. von der Leyen should rely on Mr. Macron and the leaders of other coastal states to accept the agreement.
When Barnier arrived yesterday for the meeting with EU ambassadors, he told reporters: “We are really at a crucial moment and we are giving it one last boost. In ten days, Britain will leave the single market. & # 39;
According to a diplomatic message from the Mail, Mr Barnier later told MPs that political leaders had to find a compromise on fisheries.
"We did not reach an agreement on fisheries despite the talks," he said. “There are issues that I can't solve – just a few that are very political and very sensitive – but I can't solve them at my level.
"At this stage it is normal that there are issues that President von der Leyen must deal with at their level with Boris Johnson."
The Prime Minister has told allies that he has made significant compromises in the past few days, including on fisheries. But he has warned that without a move from the EU he will not go any further. "If Macron digs his heels there will be no deal," a source said.
Ms. von der Leyen is also said to have set up return channels to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – the EU's power broker – and French President Emmanuel Macron, who is seen as the main obstacle to a deal on Downing Street
Differences are also expected to persist on the issue of government subsidies, where the EU is still pushing demands that British negotiators describe as "unbalanced". Brussels wants the right to punish Britain for using subsidies to enable British firms to undercut EU rivals. So far, however, it has refused to accept the same rules for unfair EU subsidies.
According to reports, the UK's recent fishing offer would result in the EU sacrificing around 35 percent of its quota share in UK waters over a five-year period.
Human rights mixers withdraw
Human rights judges in Strasbourg have radically reduced the number of judgments against Britain after the Brexit referendum, figures show.
The European Court of Human Rights said the UK violated its rules in only two cases in 2018 and five cases last year.
It was in stark contrast to the years before 2016, when there were repeated encroachments on UK law in areas such as the treatment of terrorists.
Dr. David Green, a former Home Office advisor who heads the Civitas Think Tank, said: “Public opinion has turned against external institutions in the Brexit referendum. I would guess that the Strasbourg judges took this into account. You have withdrawn. "
The figures were communicated to the Joint Committee on Human Rights by the Ministry of Justice.
They show the judges found in 2010 that Britain broke the rules 21 times. In 2012 this number rose to 24. In 2016, the referendum year, it was 14.
Major clashes between Strasbourg and Westminster occurred in 2005 when judges ordered the UK to vote for convicted criminals.
The Strasbourg court is separate from the EU, but the EU member states have to join.
It is a huge compromise on Lord Frost's original request that the EU give 60 percent back within three years. But it is much more than Mr Barnier's offer to give back only 15 percent within ten years.
Downing Street yesterday denied the full details of the reported offer but admitted that there was "a lot of back and forth" fishing. At one point, officials believed there was a chance of a major breakthrough yesterday afternoon.
But sources said last night that talks could continue, possibly until December 31, when the Brexit transition ends. A source suggested that a deal could even come off on Christmas Day.
Mr Barnier said yesterday that the talks could continue "through the end of the year and beyond".
However, according to British sources, the Prime Minister had ruled out any continuation of negotiations beyond the end of this year. A UK official said: “We have made it clear why we will not extend the transition period. It would involve us in future EU legislation without our having a say in shaping it, but still having to pay the bill.
"We need to provide security to our citizens and businesses as quickly as possible." Mr Barnier confirmed to the MPs that he had made a “final offer” over the weekend to return 25 percent of the quota. He said the recent British proposal was "very far from it".
Eurosceptic Tories underlined the narrow margin of compromise that Mr Johnson enjoys as he seeks to reach an agreement that would avoid the imposition of tariffs on January 1st.
Former Brexit Minister David Jones last night urged the Prime Minister not to make any binding concessions that would prevent the UK fishing industry from reclaiming its waters in the future.
He said, "Our fisheries are a huge national resource … with the potential to support many thousands of jobs."
Former Environment Secretary Owen Paterson said "regaining full control of our waters" is a symbol of whether "we run our own country or not".