Connect with us

Latest Stories

Tanker ‘hijackers’ may face a life behind bars but ‘may claim asylum’

Published

on

tanker hijackers may face a life behind bars but may claim asylum

Seven stowaways seized in a daring operation by special forces were last night facing lengthy jail terms for hijacking an oil tanker.

The suspects were detained under maritime laws which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

They had allegedly threatened the 22-man crew of the 42,000-ton Nave Andromeda which was heading to Southampton from Lagos in Nigeria.

It was claimed they could be about to attempt to claim asylum in the UK, but it would not impact any police proceedings.

Special Boat Service commandos stormed the tanker off the Isle of Wight on Sunday evening after the ship’s terrified captain radioed for help.

They had allegedly threatened the 22-man crew of the 42,000-ton Nave Andromeda which was heading to Southampton from Lagos in Nigeria

They had allegedly threatened the 22-man crew of the 42,000-ton Nave Andromeda which was heading to Southampton from Lagos in Nigeria

They had allegedly threatened the 22-man crew of the 42,000-ton Nave Andromeda which was heading to Southampton from Lagos in Nigeria

The unnamed mariner said in broken English on an open radio channel: ‘I try to keep them calm but I need immediately, immediately agency assistance.’

He added that two intruders were on the starboard side near the bridge, although they had not managed to gain access.

In other radio messages the captain is reported to have said he feared for his life, and those of his crew.

The Greek-owned tanker, that flies the Liberian flag, had left Lagos on October 5, where the stowaways ‘illegally boarded’ the vessel, a spokesman for operator Navios Tanker Management said. 

The SBS operation was authorised by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel. 

34881694 8882633 image a 66 1603763695552

34881694 8882633 image a 66 1603763695552

The heavily-armed troops descended on to the tanker by rope from four Royal Navy helicopters after nightfall

The heavily-armed troops descended on to the tanker by rope from four Royal Navy helicopters after nightfall

The heavily-armed troops descended on to the tanker by rope from four Royal Navy helicopters after nightfall

A source close to Miss Patel said the 45 minutes during which the situation was resolved ‘felt like 45 hours’.

The heavily-armed troops descended on to the tanker by rope from four Royal Navy helicopters after nightfall.

The elite soldiers quickly rounded up the suspected hijackers and ended their mission after just nine minutes.

The seven suspected hijackers seized on Sunday night were last night being questioned in separate police stations across Hampshire after the 750ft tanker moored at Southampton.

A spokesman for Hampshire Police said: ‘It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made threats towards the crew.’

He added: ‘All 22 crew members are safe and well and the vessel is now alongside in the port of Southampton. Investigators are speaking to the crew members to establish the exact circumstances of what happened.’

Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, said: ‘I think this has got all the hallmarks of a situation where a number of stowaways are seeking political asylum, presumably in the UK.  At some stage they got aggressive. Clearly no one knew at the time how aggressive they were, whether they were armed or not and what their motives were.

‘In the discussions taking place between the ship’s captain and the authorities in the UK – both police and the military – they will have decided at some stage the least risky option was to board the vessel using the special forces.’

The drama echoed a previous case involving stowaways which unfolded aboard a cargo ship in the Thames Estuary in December 2018. 

Four Nigerians had hidden aboard the Grande Tema in Lagos, and became disruptive as the ship entered UK waters. 

The elite soldiers quickly rounded up the suspected hijackers and ended their mission after just nine minutes

The elite soldiers quickly rounded up the suspected hijackers and ended their mission after just nine minutes

The elite soldiers quickly rounded up the suspected hijackers and ended their mission after just nine minutes

The four attempted to repel an SBS boarding party by threatening to infect them with HIV, but were eventually arrested and prosecuted. 

At least one made ‘throat-slitting’ gestures to crew, CCTV footage played in court showed. 

However, after an eight week trial at the Old Bailey they were cleared of attempting to hijack the ship and convicted of affray.

Two were also found guilty of making threats to kill. They were jailed for a combined total of seven years.

That case highlights potential difficulties in securing convictions under the hijacking legislation.

Q&A

What will the police do now?

Police will build a picture of the alleged hijackers’ activities aboard the Nave Andromeda. They are also likely to study electronic systems which record communications aboard the vessel and from ship-to-shore, known as a Voyage Data Recorder, or VDR, similar to the ‘black box’ aboard commercial aircraft.

What’s the law on hijacking and piracy?

The seven were arrested under Section 9 of the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990, which deals with hijackings. The law states: ‘A person who unlawfully, by the use of force or by threats of any kind, seizes a ship or exercises control of it, commits the offence of hijacking a ship.’

Richard Neylon, an expert in maritime law from law firm HFW, said: ‘If you try to seize control of a vessel and you have no business being aboard that vessel, the threshold is quite low under this legislation.’ The maximum sentence under the legislation is life imprisonment.

What could happen to the suspects?

Regardless of whether the Nigerians are charged with any crime, their removal from the UK is unlikely to be swift. Previous cases have shown hijackers were able to successfully challenge the Home Office.

For example, in February 2000 nine Afghan men hijacked an Ariana Afghan Airlines Boeing 727 and forced the pilot to land at Stansted. A siege involving the hijackers and 187 passengers and crew lasted five days. The hijackers were jailed but their convictions were later quashed.

In 2006, they brought legal action which allowed them to stay in Britain.

What happens to other Nigerian asylum seekers?

There were 1,279 asylum applications by Nigerians decided by the Home Office in the year to March – but the majority were refused.

Only 398 led to grants of asylum or other leave to remain, or just over 31 per cent. The rest were refused or withdrawn, Home Office data shows.

It is unclear how many of those who were refused were removed from the UK.

According to a research paper by the House of Commons Library, there were just over 26,000 asylum applications from Nigerians decided across the European Union during 2019.

Of those, just 16 per cent – or 4,795 – were granted in the first instance.

<!—->Advertisement

Storm the Andromeda! Minute by nerve-shredding minute, how SBS commandos blinded hijackers with lights before abseiling from helicopters and re-taking oil tanker

By Arthur Martin for the Daily Mail  

It was a ten-hour standoff at sea that culminated in nine minutes of ruthless, military precision.

Special Boat Service commandos used a classic pincer movement to storm the Nave Andromeda.

Two heavily-armed squads, wearing night vision goggles and thermal imaging equipment, rappelled down ropes from choppers at either end of the tanker before converging on seven Nigerian stowaways who quickly surrendered.

As police continue to question the suspects, the Mail charts the build-up to Sunday night’s flawless operation.

Two weeks ago: Three Nigerian stowaways are pictured on a tanker's rudder a fortnight ago

Two weeks ago: Three Nigerian stowaways are pictured on a tanker's rudder a fortnight ago

Two weeks ago: Three Nigerian stowaways are pictured on a tanker’s rudder a fortnight ago

Sneaking aboard

The seven stowaways slipped on board the Nave Andromeda shortly before the oil tanker left the Nigerian port of Lagos three weeks ago, on October 6.

After a brief stop off the coast of Saint-Nazaire in France it was heading to collect gasoline from Fawley Oil Refinery near Southampton when the drama unfolded.

The stowaways presence became known to the crew at some point during its 20-day voyage to Britain. 

Officials are working on the assumption that they boarded though the rudder trunk of the vessel.

‘Security in Third World ports is not as high as in the West, so it is relatively easy to get through perimeter fences,’ maritime expert David Osler said. ‘International Maritime Organisation guidelines mandate search of vessels prior to departure, but sometimes stowaways slip through.’

Mayday call

The captain was lauded for his ‘exemplary response and calmness’ by the ship’s owners, Navios Tanker Management. 

At around 9am on Sunday, the captain of the 42,000-ton tanker, a Greek-owned vessel which flies the Liberian flag, sent out a mayday distress signal six miles off the Isle of Wight when the stowaways allegedly started making threats to kill the crew. Tensions flared when the crew tried to lock the seven men in a cabin, having told them that they would be following protocol and informing authorities of their presence.

Nave Andromeda oil tanker is pictured berthed at Southampton docks on October 26

Nave Andromeda oil tanker is pictured berthed at Southampton docks on October 26

Nave Andromeda oil tanker is pictured berthed at Southampton docks on October 26

In a 21-second call which was released yesterday, the Greek captain begged ‘immediate assistance’ and described how the men were on the loose.

In heavily-accented English, he said: ‘The stowaways go outside, I see four person port side, midship, near to the manifold, and I have two of them starboard side on the bridge. I try to keep them calm but I need immediately, immediately agency assistance.’

The captain and 20 other crew members took refuge in the ship’s citadel, an emergency room used during pirate attacks, after the migrants ‘smashed glass and made threats to kill’.

From here they could control the ship and communicate with the authorities. Only the engineer, another Greek national, did not retreat to the citadel. The engineer remained in the engine room taking instructions from the master. A source said: ‘The captain clearly stated he feared for their lives and needed urgent assistance, they needed rescuing. It was desperation, you could hear the fear in his voice.’

The ship’s operator, Navios Tanker Management, said: ‘Navios would also like to pay tribute to the master of the Nave Andromeda for his exemplary response and calmness and to all the crew for their fortitude in a difficult situation.’ 

Stalling for time

An hour later Hampshire Police receives reports regarding ‘concerns for the safety’ of the crew who had received ‘verbal threats’.

The ship had been due to dock at Southampton at 10.30am – but the captain decided the situation was too dangerous to approach the port. Instead, he steered the tanker on a circular and zig-zag course off the Isle of Wight to play for time.

The Nave Andromeda was built in 2011 and weighs 42,338 tonnes. It was last known to be docked in Lagos, Nigeria on October 6 (pictured: The ship off the Isle of Wight on Sunday)

The Nave Andromeda was built in 2011 and weighs 42,338 tonnes. It was last known to be docked in Lagos, Nigeria on October 6 (pictured: The ship off the Isle of Wight on Sunday)

The Nave Andromeda was built in 2011 and weighs 42,338 tonnes. It was last known to be docked in Lagos, Nigeria on October 6 (pictured: The ship off the Isle of Wight on Sunday)

An exclusion zone of three nautical miles was set up around the ship. By 5pm Hampshire constabulary had submitted a formal request to the Ministry of Defence for military support. The Royal Navy was given command of the operation and was given authorisation to use armed forces to board the tanker by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Throughout the afternoon, two coastguard helicopters flew overhead, monitoring the situation. On land, an armed unit of police set up a station on the Isle of Wight. Richard Meade, of the Lloyd’s List Intelligence maritime service, said: ‘Seven stowaways were discovered on board. The crew tried to detain them in a cabin, but the stowaways did not want to be locked away in a cabin and became violent and that raised the security alarm.’

Positioning the troops

After taking control of the mission, naval chiefs acted quickly to assemble an astonishing array of firepower.

A Chinook helicopter collected SBS troops and fast assault craft from the elite unit’s HQ in Poole in Dorset, some 15 miles away, and stationed them just out of sight of the Nave Andromeda.

The frigate HMS Richmond was put on alert in the Channel and divers were assembled in case explosive mines had been placed on the ship’s hull, sources said. Shortly before the attack the captain of the tanker was asked to put the lights out and turn into the wind to prepare for the arrival of the special forces.

Storming the tanker

At around 7.30pm – just over 10 hours after the first mayday call –military chiefs ordered the attack.

A formation of helicopters swooped in, deploying a deafening din and dazzling lights, known as ‘obscurant’ tactics, to disorientate the stowaways on board. The plan was to ‘overwhelm them with the noise of the rotor discs, and put a lot of light in to blind them’, a source said.

The Special Boat Service (SBS) raided the tanker yesterday evening off the Isle of Wight after stowaways were found on board who threatened the crew. Pictured is an official on the boat

The Special Boat Service (SBS) raided the tanker yesterday evening off the Isle of Wight after stowaways were found on board who threatened the crew. Pictured is an official on the boat

The Special Boat Service (SBS) raided the tanker yesterday evening off the Isle of Wight after stowaways were found on board who threatened the crew. Pictured is an official on the boat

At least one Wildcat helicopter, fitted with an electro-optical device to aid its night vision, swept the deck for signs of hostile behaviour. Troops on landing craft approached and scanned the tanker with sniper rifles. Two Merlin Mk 4 helicopters then approached in ‘dark mode’ and took positions above the bow and stern of the ship.

Eight SBS troopers rappelled by rope onto the deck at each end and converged on the middle of the ship in a pincer movement.

Wearing night vision goggles with thermal imaging to detect human heat sources, the units closed in on the seven stowaways who were grouped in one place on the deck.

They were not thought to be armed and surrendered swiftly.

Mission success

It took the SBS less than nine minutes to arrest the suspects, secure the tanker and lead the crew out of their panic room. Some 40 minutes later the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the forces ‘have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained’. The seven Nigerians were promptly arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force.

They all remain in custody at police stations across Hampshire.

Investigators are speaking to the crew members to establish the exact circumstances of what happened. The ship, which can carry up to 42,000 tons of crude oil, is now in the port of Southampton.

An aerial photo showing the Nave Andromeda docking at Southampton at around 2.30am following Sunday's dramatic events

An aerial photo showing the Nave Andromeda docking at Southampton at around 2.30am following Sunday's dramatic events

An aerial photo showing the Nave Andromeda docking at Southampton at around 2.30am following Sunday’s dramatic events 

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace paid tribute to the courageous personnel who braved ‘dark skies and worsening weather’ to ensure the safety of the ship’s crew.

Former Rear Admiral Chris Parry said: ‘From the time the helicopters went in and the SBS roped on to the ship, they rounded up the people pretty quickly.

‘I think the stowaways themselves accepted this was probably the end of the journey for them and there probably wasn’t any point in resisting heavily-armed men approaching them.’

A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘The vessel had been travelling in the direction of Southampton, having sailed from Lagos in Nigeria. It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made threats towards the crew.

‘Following a multi-agency response by police, with support from the military and other emergency service partners, seven people were detained by police. All 22 crew members are safe and well.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Latest Stories

Romanian lorry driver, 48,arrested for trying to smuggle migrants out of the UK

Published

on

By

romanian lorry driver 48arrested for trying to smuggle migrants out of the uk

A Romanian lorry driver has been charged with attempting to smuggle migrants out of the UK including one man suspected of child sex offences. 

Sebastian Gabriel Podar, 48, was arrested at Dover Port on December 2 as he waited to board a cross channel ferry to France

Officers from the National Crime Agency searched the truck and discovered nine people hidden in the back, including a 39-year-old Bangladeshi man who was under investigation for child sex offences by Nottinghamshire Police. 

Sebastian Gabriel Podar, 48, was arrested at Dover Port on December 2 as he waited to board a cross channel ferry to France with nine migrants hidden in the back of his truck, pictured

Sebastian Gabriel Podar, 48, was arrested at Dover Port on December 2 as he waited to board a cross channel ferry to France with nine migrants hidden in the back of his truck, pictured

Sebastian Gabriel Podar, 48, was arrested at Dover Port on December 2 as he waited to board a cross channel ferry to France with nine migrants hidden in the back of his truck, pictured

The nine migrants included a 39-year-old Bangladeshi man who was wanted by police in Nottinghamshire on suspicion of child sex abuse offences

The nine migrants included a 39-year-old Bangladeshi man who was wanted by police in Nottinghamshire on suspicion of child sex abuse offences

The nine migrants included a 39-year-old Bangladeshi man who was wanted by police in Nottinghamshire on suspicion of child sex abuse offences

He has been handed over to detectives in Nottingham and faces charges. 

The eight other people were Indian, Algerian and Bangladeshi. They were all handed over to UK Border Force for processing. 

On October 16, Podar had been stopped by police in Edmonton, north London who discovered six migrants in the back of his truck. 

According to the NCA, he was using the same truck when arrested for a second time earlier this week. 

He was charged with two counts of ‘attempting to facilitate a breach of immigration law’. 

He appeared at Margate Magistrates’ Court on December 3 and was remanded to reappear at Canterbury Crown Court on January 4. 

Chris Hill of the NCA said: ‘Organised immigration crime is a priority for the NCA and we are determined to do all we can to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks involved in people smuggling.

‘Complicit lorry drivers and the networks behind them are using both legs of their journeys to smuggle migrants into and out of the UK to maximise their profits.

‘I hope these arrests send out a clear message to the drivers involved in this activity, and those considering fleeing the UK in this manner for whatever reason.

‘This operation involved the NCA working in partnership with Border Force, Immigration Enforcement and Nottinghamshire Police.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Latest Stories

Just a QUARTER of pubs reopened after lockdown many staying shut as it’s not worth opening in Tier 2

Published

on

By

just a quarter of pubs reopened after lockdown many staying shut as its not worth opening in tier 2

Just one quarter of pubs reopened after lockdown with many staying shut because it was not worth opening in Tier 2, according to the pub industry’s association.

A survey of pubs over the past week found that just 27 per cent reopened following the end of lockdown on December 2.

However, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), who conducted the survey, warned that many pubs are facing closure again as trade is so low under the restrictive tier rules.

The majority of the UK is in Tier 2, which prohibits the sale of alcohol to customers unless it is accompanied with a ‘substantial meal’.

A survey of pubs conducted over the past week found that just 27 per cent reopened following the end of lockdown on December 2

A survey of pubs conducted over the past week found that just 27 per cent reopened following the end of lockdown on December 2

A survey of pubs conducted over the past week found that just 27 per cent reopened following the end of lockdown on December 2 

Hospitality businesses in Tier 3 are even more severely restricted, as pubs can only operate a takeaway service.

Only 729 of the nation’s 37,552 pubs are in Tier 1, the only level where drinkers can socialise indoors with friends, according to Altus Group. 

The chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, Emma McClarkin, said that it was ‘ridiculous’ that pubs are being forced to close after investing millions in making their premises safe for customers.

‘Having invested £500m in safety measures to ensure they are Covid-secure, it is ridiculous so many of our pubs are being forced to remain closed unfairly,’ she said.

‘It is clear the meagre £1,000 one-off payment for pubs this Christmas isn’t going to be anywhere near enough to save those who simply cannot open or are completely unviable.’ 

Speaking to The Telegraph, she warned that many pubs already fear another closure as trade will be low under the harsh tier restrictions.

‘It is just a shame so few are allowed to reopen and make a good go of it under the harsh new restrictions they now face,’ she said.

‘For those pubs that are reopening, some fear they could close again as soon as this week because they expect trade to be so low.’ 

In Wales pubs, restaurants and cafes are banned from serving alcohol from Friday, and will be unable to open to customers beyond 6pm. 

Wetherspoons responded by saying it would close all of its 50 pubs in Wales, as it was ‘not viable to stay open’.

The pub chain later said they would keep eight pubs open, effectively trading as cafes and not pubs.

Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoons, said: ‘We’ve been perplexed by the low number of transmissions in pubs for a long time. We have no cases at all of the virus being transferred from staff to customers or vice versa.’

The British Beer and Pub Association warned that many pubs could close again as trade is so low in Tier 2. In Wales pubs, restaurants and cafes are banned from serving alcohol from Friday, and will be unable to open to customers beyond 6pm. Pictured: The Borough pub in Cardiff ahead of closing on Friday

The British Beer and Pub Association warned that many pubs could close again as trade is so low in Tier 2. In Wales pubs, restaurants and cafes are banned from serving alcohol from Friday, and will be unable to open to customers beyond 6pm. Pictured: The Borough pub in Cardiff ahead of closing on Friday

The British Beer and Pub Association warned that many pubs could close again as trade is so low in Tier 2. In Wales pubs, restaurants and cafes are banned from serving alcohol from Friday, and will be unable to open to customers beyond 6pm. Pictured: The Borough pub in Cardiff ahead of closing on Friday

Figures from Public Health England revealed that just 128 of 4,687 infections across England in the four weeks to the end of October were linked to bars, cafes, pubs and restaurants.

On Tuesday the Government announced a £1,000 Christmas grant for drinks-led pubs, but industry experts estimate that tenanted pubs are losing £500 to £600 per week on average. 

More than 6,200 jobs have already been lost at major pub chains, with many thousands more made redundant by smaller landlords.  

Hospitality venues will not included in the five-day relaxation of rules over Christmas, which allow three households to mix at home. 

A Government spokesman said: ‘We have acted quickly to support businesses with one of the most extensive packages of financial support in the world worth £280 billion, including the extension of the furlough scheme, various loan schemes, a business rates holiday, VAT deferrals and grants of up to £3000 a month for those required to close.’

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Latest Stories

Brexit: Don’t let Britain become a permanent ‘client state’, MPs warn

Published

on

By

brexit dont let britain become a permanent client state mps warn

Die-hard Tories last night warned an under-fire Boris Johnson that the UK could become a permanent ‘client state’ of the EU if British negotiators cave in to Brussels on fishing rights and the ‘level playing field’. 

A group of Conservative backbenchers urged the PM not to break the promises he made to Leave voters in last year’s General Election and the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union.

With the UK’s chances of striking a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels teetering, Brexit radicals fear that Mr Johnson has reportedly agreed to defer repatriating up to half of the fishing quotas for several years. 

British officials hit out French President Emmanuel Macron, who they accused of pushing talks to the brink of collapse by pressuring EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier to take a hardline stance. 

The French President has also been pushing for French trawlers to maintain their access to UK waters, and is said to have demanded a 10-year transition to any reduction in EU fishing access – which No10 finds unacceptable. A senior government official told the Times the proposal is ‘not something that we can agree to or sell’.

Mr Barnier, who has been in London this week to try to hash out a deal, has also called for further concessions from the UK on state aid, with Mr Macron determined to protect French firms from British competition. 

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called fishing a ‘totemic issue’ and said the UK needed to start with control over ‘100 per cent’. He also insisted that Britain be treated like Norway, which sets its own fishing quotas. 

Theresa Villiers, the former Environment Secretary, added that Britain could be ‘locked in as a client state’ if it did not secure regulatory autonomy, calling this the ‘main means’ by which the EU could ‘tie us into their laws’.    

Sir Iain told the Telegraph: ‘We have to be treated like Norway is treated. We’re not looking for an increase, we are looking for control. From there, we negotiate with other countries what access they get. It’s as simple as that.’

Mrs Villiers called the failure to secure regulatory autonomy the ‘main threat to getting Brexit done’. ‘There are level playing field agreements in the Canada deal and arbitration mechanisms that are acceptable. But on the other end of the spectrum we are locked in as a client state,’ she told the newspaper.

Some Brexiteers told Mr Johnson to walk away. Andrew Bridgen said: ‘I am very worried that the Prime Minister is about to sign up to something unacceptable. If Boris sells us out on Brexit then he is finished, and I think he knows that.’ But former Tory minister Tobias Ellwood said: ‘It would be a retrograde step for Global Britain.’  

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called fishing a 'totemic issue' and said the UK needed to start with control over '100 per cent'. He also insisted that Britain be treated like Norway, which sets its own fishing quotas

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called fishing a 'totemic issue' and said the UK needed to start with control over '100 per cent'. He also insisted that Britain be treated like Norway, which sets its own fishing quotas

Theresa Villiers, the former Environment Secretary, added that Britain could be 'locked in as a client state' if it did not secure regulatory autonomy, calling this the 'main means' by which the EU could 'tie us into their laws'

Theresa Villiers, the former Environment Secretary, added that Britain could be 'locked in as a client state' if it did not secure regulatory autonomy, calling this the 'main means' by which the EU could 'tie us into their laws'

Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith called fishing a ‘totemic issue’ and said the UK needed to start with control over ‘100 per cent’. He also insisted that Britain be treated like Norway, which sets its own fishing quotas. Theresa Villiers, the former Environment Secretary, added that Britain could be ‘locked in as a client state’ if it did not secure regulatory autonomy, calling this the ‘main means’ by which the EU could ‘tie us into their laws’

Talks have also hit stalemate over fishing, where Mr Macron has been pushing for French trawlers to maintain their existing access to British waters. (Pictured, the PM and President Macron in London in June)

Talks have also hit stalemate over fishing, where Mr Macron has been pushing for French trawlers to maintain their existing access to British waters. (Pictured, the PM and President Macron in London in June)

Talks have also hit stalemate over fishing, where Mr Macron has been pushing for French trawlers to maintain their existing access to British waters. (Pictured, the PM and President Macron in London in June)

Barnier's telling tweet: Mr Barnier is expected to return to Brussels this morning to warn the negotiations are in peril

Barnier's telling tweet: Mr Barnier is expected to return to Brussels this morning to warn the negotiations are in peril

Barnier’s telling tweet: Mr Barnier is expected to return to Brussels this morning to warn the negotiations are in peril

Tensions were ratcheted up after France’s Europe minister, Charles Beaune, yesterday publicly announced that Paris would veto any post-Brexit trade deal that went against French interests. 

Mr Macron, who faces re-election in 2022, has made lavish promises to French fishermen and is said to believe blocking a deal could bolster his popularity. Mr Beaune insisted Paris wanted a deal but added: ‘France is attached to the interests of its fishermen, is attached to the fair business conditions.

‘It’s also the case for our partners that if, if there were a deal that isn’t good, which in our evaluation doesn’t correspond to those interests, we will oppose it. Yes each country has a veto, so it’s possible.’  

A UK source said: ‘At the start of the week we saw Macron agitating with other EU capitals that they were giving away too much. Then you see Barnier bringing this back and the whole process goes backwards. 

‘I think everyone can join the dots. We want a deal but it has to be on the basis that we are a sovereign country again. Some people still seem to be struggling with the concept that we are going to be an independent country setting our own rules. If it stays like that there will be no deal.’ 

It comes as the two sides’ chief negotiators announced yesterday they were putting the talks on ‘pause’ to allow political leaders to take stock. In a joint statement following the latest round of negotiations in London, Lord Frost and Mr Barnier said the conditions for an agreement had still not been met.

Mr Johnson will hold talks with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon to try to rescue the process. But Lord Frost is said to believe there is little prospect of striking a post-Brexit trade deal unless EU leaders rein in Mr Macron and ultimately persuade him to back down.  

Boris Johnson was locked in a stand-off with Emmanuel Macron last night as Brexit talks teetered on the brink. British officials claimed the French president had pressured European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier to take a hardline stance

Boris Johnson was locked in a stand-off with Emmanuel Macron last night as Brexit talks teetered on the brink. British officials claimed the French president had pressured European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier to take a hardline stance

Boris Johnson was locked in a stand-off with Emmanuel Macron last night as Brexit talks teetered on the brink. British officials claimed the French president had pressured European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier to take a hardline stance

Mr Johnson was ready to accept the inclusion of 'non-regression clauses' into the deal, which would have guaranteed no cuts to current standards on state aid subsidies, workers' rights and environmental standards

Mr Johnson was ready to accept the inclusion of 'non-regression clauses' into the deal, which would have guaranteed no cuts to current standards on state aid subsidies, workers' rights and environmental standards

Mr Macron, who faces re-election in 2022, has made lavish promises to French fishermen and is said to believe blocking a deal could bolster his popularity

Mr Macron, who faces re-election in 2022, has made lavish promises to French fishermen and is said to believe blocking a deal could bolster his popularity

Mr Johnson was ready to accept the inclusion of ‘non-regression clauses’ into the deal, which would have guaranteed no cuts to current standards on state aid subsidies, workers’ rights and environmental standards. Mr Macron, who faces re-election in 2022, has made lavish promises to French fishermen and is said to believe blocking a deal could bolster his popularity

Failure to strike an agreement would leave the two trading partners to deal with each other on World Trade Organisation terms from the start of next month. This would lead to the imposition of tariffs on a wide range of goods, including levies of at least 40 per cent on lamb and 10 per cent on cars. 

After months of circling round the same issues, they said ‘significant divergences’ remained over fisheries, the ‘level playing field’ rules on fair competition and the enforcement mechanism for any deal.

Mr Johnson was ready to accept the inclusion of ‘non-regression clauses’ into the deal, which would have guaranteed no cuts to current standards on state aid subsidies, workers’ rights and environmental standards.

But Mr Barnier then brought back earlier demands for a so-called ‘ratchet clause’ to make the UK follow future EU laws in these areas. Britain would be threatened with tariffs if standards fell below those in the EU.     

In a further complicating factor, the UK Government is bringing back to the Commons legislation enabling it to override elements of Mr Johnson’s ‘divorce’ settlement with Brussels in breach of international law.

On Monday, MPs will vote on whether to overturn amendments by the House of Lords which removed the provisions in the UK Internal Market Bill relating to the Irish border. 

MPs will then debate legislation which contains further similar provisions. The legislation has infuriated the EU and – if it is passed – could further sour the mood in the negotiations making a deal harder to reach.     

A close ally of Emmanuel Macron yesterday said he would veto any trade deal that went against French interests. But UK sources said the president did not respect Britain's independence and was trying to shield his nation's firms from competition. One insider warned there would be no deal unless Mr Macron backed down (Above, Macron in Paris)

A close ally of Emmanuel Macron yesterday said he would veto any trade deal that went against French interests. But UK sources said the president did not respect Britain's independence and was trying to shield his nation's firms from competition. One insider warned there would be no deal unless Mr Macron backed down (Above, Macron in Paris)

A close ally of Emmanuel Macron yesterday said he would veto any trade deal that went against French interests. But UK sources said the president did not respect Britain’s independence and was trying to shield his nation’s firms from competition. One insider warned there would be no deal unless Mr Macron backed down (Above, Macron in Paris)

Could France veto a deal? When is the deadline? Your Brexit questions answered

What are the sticking points?

There are three key sticking points, which have hardly changed in months. The first is the EU’s demand that Britain observe a ‘level playing field’ on issues such as state a id subsidies, workers’ rights and environmental protections to prevent it undercutting the EU.

The second is fishing, where Brussels has demanded that EU trawlers maintain their existing rights to fish in British waters. The third is agreeing a mechanism for resolving disputes that is fair to both sides.

How can they be resolved?

The EU is nervous that its businesses could be undercut by British firms freed from the dead hand of Brussels red tape.

Boris Johnson is adamant that he will not tie the UK to EU rules after Brexit. In a bid to strike a deal, the Prime Minister has indicated he will agree to maintain ‘level playing field’ standards at at least the level they are now. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, appeared to have agreed but, under pressure from French President Emmanuel Macron, demanded that Britain also agree to continue matching EU standards as they change in future. This is unacceptable to the PM, who believes that the ability to set our own rules is the right of any independent state and a key benefit of Brexit that could allow the UK to outcompete the EU.

On fishing, most EU countries except France accept they will get lower fishing quotas in UK waters. Cuts to EU quotas could be phased in over a few years, but the UK is unwilling to accept a Brussels proposal for a decade-long transition.

Any dispute mechanism will have to put the UK’s Supreme Court on an equal footing with the European Court of Justice for it to be acceptable to Tory MPs.

Will Tory Eurosceptics accept a deal?

Most Tory MPs will back a deal that allows the UK to take back control of its borders and laws. But if the PM compromises on key issues of independence, such as allowing a decisive role for the European Court of Justice, he could face a dangerous revolt. However, this is not likely to affect his chances of getting a deal through Parliament as Labour are expected to either back it or abstain.

Could France veto it?

Yes, all 27 member states have a veto. French Europe minister Clement Beaune warned yesterday that Mr Macron was ready to veto any deal not in France’s interests.

When is the final deadline?

The Brexit process has had innumerable ‘make or break’ weeks, but sources on both sides agree the process is now in the endgame. Negotiators had been targeting a deal by tomorrow night in order for the hundreds of pages of legal documents to be translated in time for a Brussels summit on Thursday. But the process could now slip into early next week.

What about the UK’s No Deal legislation?

MPs will vote on Monday to reinsert controversial clauses in the Internal Market Bill which override parts of last year’s Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland. The measures could have been dropped if a deal had been struck but now look certain to go ahead.

<!—->Advertisement

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2020 DiazHub.