The UK Navy is preparing to mobilize armed ships against French fishermen if negotiators can't strike a Brexit deal
Summary List PlacementThe British Royal Navy reportedly has put four of its armed ships on standby to protect its coastal waters from French fishermen, as Brexit talks between the UK and EU continue to focus on territorial rights to the sea between the two countries. "The MOD has conducted extensive planning and preparation to ensure that Defence is ready for a range of scenarios at the end of the transition period," a representative said Saturday, according to reports from Reuters and CNN. The rep added: "This preparation includes a standby package of 14,000 personnel to ensure that we are ready to support other government departments and authorities over the winter period, including with the EU transition, Covid-19 and potential severe weather events." The UK is due to finish its transition out of the EU at the end of the year, with or without a new trade deal. The dispute over fishing areas has been one of three "critical" issues on which EU and UK Brexit negotiators haven't been able to agree, according to a joint statement last weekend from the prime minister, Boris Johnson, and Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president. Under current EU regulations, the waters between the UK and France have been mostly open to fishing vessels from both countries, and any other EU fishermen. But a no-deal Brexit would likely mean the UK asserting sole control over more of the fishery. The four ships the Royal Navy would be authorized to board and impound any ship within 200 miles of the British shore, Reuters reported. UK ministers were reportedly preparing legislation to give the navy the authority to arrest foreign fishermen, according to The Sunday Times. It's highly unlikely that a Royal Navy ship would fire on a French fishing ship, a navy source told The Guardian. "Nobody is going to be firing warning shots against French fishermen; firearms are only used when there is danger to life," the source reportedly said.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Epidemiologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
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