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Tory MP John Redwood raged at the EU for attempting to use the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse for their stance in the Brexit trade talks with the UK. While speaking on Brexit Unlocked with Martin Daubney and Belinda de Lucy, Mr Redwood agreed the EU was using coronavirus as a reason to have a firm stance on economic issues like fishing. However, he said this could work in the UK’s favour as the stakes are now higher for the EU, who he thinks will suffer following Brexit, especially if there is no deal.
Mr De Lucy said: “COVID has influenced the negotiations at the moment.
“There is this sort of forboding year ahead of economic concerns and how much do you think that is pushing the EU to make a decision on a trade deal with the UK.
“Europeans across the continent have said they are keen on a trade deal but Michel Barnier keeps putting in obstacles.
“Emmanuel Macron and Barnier have both been saying they are not going to sacrifice the French fishermen.
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“What are your thoughts on how coronavirus has impacted the negotiations?”
Mr Redwood replied: “I think they are cynically using coronavirus, just like they use everything cynically to try and put us back in colonial status as one of them said.
“I think they are saying, both to themselves and to us, look the policies to do with COVID-19 have done a lot of damage on both sides of the Channel and we don’t want to do any more damage.
“Well I have got news for them, I don’t think Brexit is damaging to us.”
Mr Redwood reiterated the parts of the EU he felt the UK could benefit from not being a part of.
He also highlighted some issues he expects the EU will have to face.
He said: “I think the EU single market and customs union membership has been pretty damaging to us which is why I wanted to get out of it.
He said: “I think the EU has got problems because if we put a full range of tariffs on all their food products, which they export in huge quantities to us, that could be difficult.
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“It could also be difficult if they lose access to our fish but that is their problem.
“If they want to use COVID-19 as an excuse for saying we have made a lot of mistakes in the negotiations but we are now offering you a free trade agreement, be my guest.
“I wouldn’t even object and claim they have done it for the wrong reasons, if they want a free trade agreement they can have one.
“But it has got to be a fair free-trade agreement with the sovereign United Kingdom and the European Union, not a vassal state kind of agreement.”
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