Royal Navy prepares to protect British waters in No Deal scenario

It has been confirmed that the Royal Navy will defend British waters with armed vessels from January 1 if no Brexit trade agreement is reached.

The end of the transition period at midnight on December 31 will see the end of Britain’s participation in the Common Fisheries Policy, and thus a loss of access to British waters for many European trawlers.

In response, the British government is prepared to deploy four 80 meter long Royal Navy patrol vessels to enforce British control of the waters and keep out illegal fishermen.

The naval patrol may also involve greater powers to enforce fishing rules. Ministers are reportedly drawing up plans to allow the Royal Navy Police to board illegal vessels and arrest foreign fishermen.

Speaking about the necessary naval response to illegal fishing in British waters, the former Chief of the Naval Staff Lord West said:

I don’t think people will go around shooting at each other but if people are bolshy when fishing, it can be difficult. You have to be robust. Normally, you let the vessel escape and when they get back to their home port you get their own country to prosecute them, but Europe is not going to prosecute its own fishing boats.

Lord West, quoted in the Express

He went further and referred back to the infamous “cod wars” of the 1970s to highlight the new environment that may be faced by naval officers. “People were ramming each other and trying to cut each other’s fishing nets.”

But while Lord West dubbed the policy “absolutely appropriate” others have opened fire on the Prime Minister, including members of his own party.

Tobias Ellwood, who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum and has consistently opposed a No Deal Brexit, said the threat was “absolutely irresponsible.” Fellow Remainer Lord Patten accused Boris of being on a “runaway train of English nationalism.”

Fisheries policy has been a key sticking point in the Brexit talks to date, with French President Emmanuel Macron particularly keen to retain access to one of Britain’s most valuable natural resources.

“I’m not asking to have my cake and eat it, no” said the French President. “All I want is a cake that’s worth its weight. Because I won’t give up my share of it either.”

With the deadline for a deal just a day away, the British public may soon find out if Macron will keep “his share” of Britain’s territorial waters or not.