Raab: Fishing rights the ‘bone of contention’ but Brexit deal there to be done

Fishing rights remain an "outstanding major bone of contention" in post-Brexit trade talks with the European Union but there is a deal to be done, the Foreign Secretary has said.

Dominic Raab said this could be the last week of "substantive" negotiations as he urged Brussels to recognise the "point of principle" on Britain's control of its waters.

He told Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "I do think we're in a reasonable position – there's a deal to be done.

"If you look really at what the outstanding issues are, of course the level playing field, but it feels like there is progress towards greater respect for what the UK position was.

"On fishing there's a point of principle: as we leave the EU we're going to be an independent... coastal state and we've got to be able to control our waters."

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Pictures of the week: November 22 - 28
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Fans stand atop a car to look over the boundary wall, watching the action during the English FA Cup first round match Barrow against Wimbledon, at the Progression Solicitors Stadium in Barrow, England, Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. (Zac Goodwin/PA via AP)
A plaque showing Argentina's Diego Maradona outside the National Football Museum in Manchester, England, Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. Tens of thousands of fans were lining up to say goodbye to Diego Maradona on Thursday at the Argentine presidential mansion staging the funeral of one of football's greatest stars. Maradona died on Wednesday of a heart attack where he recovered from a brain operation on Nov. 3. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
People gather to look out as the sun sets, by Chesterton Windmill, England, Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. The 17th-century cylindric stone tower Chesterton Windmill forms a striking landmark in the plain landscape. (Jacob King/PA via AP)
A man walks past a Stay Alert Save lives Rainbow sign in Soho during the second lockdown. London will be placed in tier 2 restrictions when England�s national lockdown comes to an end as all not essential shops will be closed until 2nd December. (Photo by Pietro Recchia / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A Christmas lights sculpture stands backdropped by Tower Bridge, during England's second coronavirus lockdown, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. The visual effects in blue and white are to thank National Health Service (NHS) and key workers for all they did during this year's coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange take part in a protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, to support him in a administrative hearing for his extradition case, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Assange was unable to attend or appear by video link today due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Belmarsh prison where he is being held. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Two 16ft illuminated Marmots, 'Marmite' (left) and 'Meribel', which have been erected outside the Assembly Rooms in Alton, Hampshire, as part of the town's MarmART trail. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pro EU campaigners during a protest against a Brexit no deal near Parliament in London, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. The European Union has committed to be "creative" in the final stages of the Brexit trade negotiations but warned that whatever deal emerges, the United Kingdom will be reduced to "just a valued partner," far removed from its former membership status. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
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Christmas lights are lit up on New Bond Street in Mayfair, London, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
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The Elizabeth Tower, which contains the bell known as the Big Ben, emerges from the trees in Westminster, in London, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Burnley gnomes are seen in a house outside Turf Moor ahead of the Premier League match between Burnley and Crystal Palace at Turf Moor on November 23, 2020 in Burnley, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)
The 'Terrarium Tree' in Coal Drops Yard, which forms part of the King's Cross neighbourhood of London's unconventional 'traditionally untraditional' Christmas tree installations, stands illuminated during England's second coronavirus lockdown, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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Christmas trees adorn the Churchill Arms pub in Kensington, London, which is closed as England continues a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
A woman wearing a mask because of the coronavirus pandemic walks past masks displayed on mannequins in the window of a closed shop in Canterbury, southern England on November 23, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to announce on Monday a major testing programme in areas with the highest coronavirus infection rates as the country re-enters a system of tiered restrictions. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
New cars in a compound near Sheerness in Kent, negotiations between the UK and European Union on a post-Brexit trade deal have resumed, but ÒfundamentalÓ differences remain between the two sides. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pedestrians wearing face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk past Christmas-themed window displays inside Burlington Arcade in central London, on November 23, 2020. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest plan is to roll out mass testing to the hardest-hit areas, hoping to make enough inroads to be able to relax social restrictions in time for Christmas. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 23, 2020 - The Christmas market in Cardiff city centre as Welsh Government announces that tighter coronavirus restrictions could be implemented in Wales in the run-up to Christmas, aligning Wales with other parts of the UK. PHOTOGRAPH BY Mark Hawkins / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Mark Hawkins/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Magpies and crows surround a resting stag on the Ashton Court Estate, Bristol, England, Monday Nov. 23, 2020, during cold, crisp autumnal weather. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
Daniil Medvedev of Russia holds up the winners trophy as confetti falls after defeating Dominic Thiem of Austria in the final of the ATP World Finals tennis match at the ATP World Finals tennis tournament at the O2 arena in London, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A pallet of changing colours as the sky lights up before sunrise at St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear on the North East coast. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22: In this image released on November 22, Dua Lipa performs onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards, broadcast on November 22, 2020 London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for dcp)
People walking on Tynemouth beach, as England continues a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Tyne and Wear, England, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)
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Mr Raab said the UK recognised the impact on other countries, but said: "I think the answer is 'can the EU accept that point of principle which comes with us leaving the political club?".

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has been in London this weekend for talks with his UK counterpart Lord (David) Frost, but Downing Street said there remains a lot to do at a late hour.

Progress is understood to have been made across many areas, yet significant gaps remain on the EU's access to UK fishing waters when the transition period ends on December 31.

Reports last week suggested that Mr Barnier recently said the EU could accept a 15-18% cut in its share of fishing rights in UK waters, but British officials were said to have immediately rejected the offer.

A Government source said: "These figures are risible, and the EU side know full well that we would never accept this.

"There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalise the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation."

The Government has repeatedly said it is prepared to leave the transition period without a deal if the EU fails to move, and talks have been deadlocked for months over fishing rights and other issues.

They include the governance of any deal and the "level playing field" conditions aimed at preventing unfair competition by cutting standards or increasing state subsidies.

But ahead of what Number 10 said could be the final week of talks, a source close to the negotiations said: "Over the coming days we will continue to negotiate with creativity and intensity.

"We hope that the EU will come with some fresh thinking because what we've seen so far doesn't cut it. They must understand that we are not going to sell out our sovereignty."

Mr Barnier arrived in London on Friday night telling reporters that he would continue to work with "patience and determination" to reach an agreement.

Face-to-face negotiations were paused earlier this month after one of the EU team tested positive for coronavirus, but in-person discussions resumed on Saturday morning.

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