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Brexit news: France accuses Boris of ‘blackmail’ plot over December 31 | UK | News

Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin said the bloc wouldn’t strike an agreement “at all costs” because of the Prime Minister’s refusal to extend the Brexit transition period beyond December 31. Paris will not allow Brussels to “sacrifice” its farmers, fishermen or businesses in order to match the timetable set out by the Government. Ms de Montchalin made the intervention ahead of an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels tomorrow to rubber-stamp Michel Barnier’s negotiating guidelines.

She said: “We have given Michel Barnier a very clear mission: we will not sacrifice our farmers, our fishermen and our companies.

“We will not accept blackmailing or pressure over the dates. We will not sign a bad deal under pressure just because Boris Johnson wants an agreement at all costs on December 31.

“We must protect fishermen – if we sign a bad agreement, they will lose a lot.”

EU ambassadors are expected to finalise Mr Barnier’s draft negotiating mandate later this afternoon.

France have played a defining role in hardening the conditions they will demand in any free-trade agreement with the UK.

Paris has pushed to ensure Mr Barnier’s guidelines reflects the capital’s desire to ensure the deal includes regulatory alignment and access to Britain’s fishing waters.

In the latest draft guidelines circulated around EU capitals, Brussels will ask for a “level playing field” that evolves over time to keep the UK’s state aid, taxation, environment and work place standards closely aligned to the bloc’s rules and regulations.

The draft document also made clear that any deal should “uphold” EU fishermen’s current access to UK waters.

Many of the demands listed by Brussels have already been rejected by, David Frost the UK’s chief negotiator, in a recent speech in the Belgian capital.

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The bloc’s negotiator said the level playing field is about the UK taking a “sovereign decision to have a regulatory coherence”, adding that its designed to prevent “unfair competition”.

A European Commission spokesman added: “We have been together with the UK for almost half a century. Calais is only a couple of kilometres from Dover.

“The UK cannot expect high-quality access to the single market if it also insists on diverging from our rules.”

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