Britain may have to accept a “fish for finance” compromise in EU trade talks which would see foreign boats in UK waters in return for few restrictions on the City, Irish premier Leo Varadkar warned today.
He stressed there would have to be “trade offs” if the UK and Brussels are to strike a new trade deal which Boris Johnson has vowed to do by the end of the year.
The UK has a “very strong position on fisheries,” he added, given the size of British waters, with “a lot of fish taken out of your waters by boats from other countries,” and the bulk sold to mainland Europe.
However, he added: “An area where you’re in a very weak position is one of the most valuable parts of the British economy which is financial services.
“And if financial services and entertainment, audio visual, are cut off from the single market, the European market, that will be a very severe blow to the British economy and the South-East, in particular in London.
“So, you know, you may have to make concessions in areas like fishing in order to get concessions from us in areas like financial services.”
Some figures in the Square Mile, though, believe that continental Europe is so dependent on finance from London that any new restrictions will be limited anyhow.
Mr Varadkar, speaking to the BBC, also claimed that the EU would have the upper hand in post-Brexit trade talks given that’s it’s population is seven times bigger than the UK.
The Taoiseach, who is fighting a general election, also repeated warnings from several EU leaders that striking a comprehensive new trade deal by the end of December would be “difficult”.
He was holding talks with EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin today.