Britain offers fresh fishing proposals in last-ditch effort to break deadlock and rescue Brexit deal

BRITAIN has offered fresh proposals over EU access to UK fishing waters in a last-ditch bid to rescue a Brexit deal.

Boris Johnson called EU chief Ursula von der Leyen last night as the two leaders tried to breakthrough the deadlock.

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An 11th hour proposal set out by the UK negotiators would see the bloc cutting its current fishing quota by 35 per cent, over five years.

Britain has initially demanded it slash the amount by 60 per cent.

It would leave British boats fishing 70 per cent of British waters.

But EU negotiators are holding out for a reduction of 25 per cent over a seven-year transition period, according to reports.

But the two sides are moving closer, with the bloc initially offering an 18 per cent cut over 10 years.

There are just nine days to go until the end of the transition period on New Year's Eve.

And EU officials said calls between Mr Johnson and Ms von der Leyen, the European Commission President are "taking place, part and parcel of the negotiation".

France is likely to oppose Britain's fresh proposals, and the lorry chaos at Dover after the Channel crossing was closed because of the mutant Covid strain in the UK has sparked fresh tension.

One EU official stubbornly insisted the proposal did not go far enough, telling The Telegraph: "It's still a no from us."

Mr Johnson last night said he had an "excellent" conversation with Mr Macron, and said the leaders steered clear of Brexit talks while they tried to hammer out a way out of the haulier crisis.

The PM told a Downing Street briefing: "We vowed to stick off Brexit, because that negotiation is being conducted, as you know, via the European Commission and that's quite proper, and the position is unchanged.

What are the key sticking points?

FISHING: The EU wants continued access to Britain's fishing waters after we leave. It's claimed Britain would be happy with a five year deal to phase out access, but the EU have pushing for eight. One of the key referendum claims was that Britain would be able to take back control of our borders – including fish – when we leave the EU.

LEVEL PLAYING FIELD: Brussels wants a shared set rules and standards to ensure businesses in the UK do not have an unfair advantage over their competitors. The UK has said it won't lower its standards, but wants to be able to set its own rules.

GOVERNANCE: Who decides what happens if the terms of the deal are breached? The EU wants an European body to decide the terms, but the UK aren't keen on this and want an independent arbitrator to have the final say.

And a plan set out by former Downing Street special adviser Raoul Ruperal, would mean disagreements over future quotas after the 5 year transition period would be sorted out by arbitration.

But the bloc is trying to force a review clause into the deal that could threaten to suspend free trade if, at the end of the transition period, Britain's quota proposals are not enough,

Parliament formally rose and MPs headed home last week, but politicians could return before New Year's in order to vote for a deal if needed.

The EU Parliament's deadline for agreeing a pact has also passed, but there are mechanisms in place for leaders of the bloc to ratify the deal if necessary, and MEPs could vote early next year.

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