UK navy boats on standby to protect fishing waters

The UK’s Royal Navy boats are being prepared to patrol the country’s fishing waters as Sunday’s deadline for Brexit trade negotiations between Britain and the European Union (EU) was fast approaching, according to media reports.

Four navy boats are on standby to guard British waters from EU fishermen in case of a no-deal situation after the Brexit transition period ends on December 31, Xinhua news agency quoted Sky News as saying in a report on Saturday.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed the move, saying the deployment of the navy vessels had been agreed as part of planning for the end of the transition period, according to Sky News.

The emergency meeting in Brussels between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to seek a post-Brexit trade deal ended on Wednesday evening without a breakthrough as “very large gaps remain” between the two sides, according to Downing Street.

The two leaders have agreed that their negotiating teams will continue discussions and a firm decision about the future of the lengthy and difficult talks should be taken by Sunday.

The two leaders have said significant differences still remain between the two sides on three critical issues: level playing field, governance and fisheries.

Johnson has warned that there is a “strong possibility” that Britain and the EU will fail to strike a post-Brexit trade agreement.

The two leaders have had phone conversations several times instead of face-to-face discussions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK and the EU started their lengthy and bumpy post-Brexit talks in March after the country ended its membership of the bloc on January 31, 2020, trying to secure a future trade deal before the Brexit transition period expires.

The trade negotiations are at a crucial stage as time is running out for both sides to secure a deal before the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

Failure to reach a free trade agreement means bilateral trade will fall back on World Trade Organization (WTO) rules in 2021.