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Brexit: What will Boris Johnson give Nicola Sturgeon for Christmas?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Nicola Sturgeon can expect “hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish, shellfish and crustaceans” as a Christmas Brexit gift from Boris Johnson.

Mr Johnson joked that the first minister will be able to enjoy “more fish than she could possibly consume” when Britain leaves the European Union in just 15 days’ time.

The comments came as MPs were put on notice that they could be recalled over the Christmas break to sign off on a trade deal with the EU.

Downing Street said that, subject to the approval of the Speaker, the Commons would go into recess on Thursday “but with the knowledge that we will recall MPs and Peers to legislate for a deal if one is secured”.

Nicola Sturgeon.

“Parliament has long shown it can move at pace and the country would expect nothing less”, a spokesman added.

The move came as European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen raised hopes of a breakthrough on Wednesday morning, telling MEPs that progress has been made in several areas of negotiation.

Ms von der Leyen, speaking in Brussels, said the next few days would be “decisive” and added there is a “path to an agreement now”, although it is “very narrow”.

She said that progress in the “level playing field” could mean the EU being allowed to act “autonomously” in retaliation if the UK flouts subsidy rules.

There has also been agreement that Mr Johnson will not undercut existing common labour and environmental standards, she said.

But difficulties remain over what happens in the future if either side changes its rules.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

Mr Johnson has said no prime minister could accept a situation where Brussels could automatically impose punitive measures if it changes its regulations and the UK fails to follow suit.

Fishing remains a sticking point

However, it is on fishing where the two sides remain furthest apart, Mrs von der Leyen said.

She said that “as things stand I cannot tell you whether there will be a deal or not”.

Despite the pressure, Mr Johnson remained optimistic at prime minister’s questions, dismissing concerns over the economic impact of no-deal.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, speaking in the Commons, said: “With just two weeks to go, it is a disgrace that businesses and people have been left with this crippling uncertainty and the real threat of food and medicine shortages come the new year.

Ian Blackford,

“One year ago, at the general election, Scotland rejected this prime minister, rejected this Tory government and rejected their extreme Brexit. People in Scotland now need to know the price that we’ll be forced to pay.

“Ahead of any vote in Parliament, will the Prime Minister commit to releasing a detailed economic impact assessment of the cost to the UK of his extreme Tory Brexit plans?”

‘I know that this country will prosper mightily’

Mr Johnson responded: “There’s every opportunity, every hope that I have, that our friends and partners across the Channel will see sense and do a deal, and all that that takes is for them to understand that the UK has a natural right, like every other country, to want to be able to control its own laws and its own fishing grounds.”

He added: “Whatever happens in the next few days, I know that this country will prosper mightily on the terms that we agree with our European friends, whatever they may be, whether they’re Australian or Canadian, he can go forward with a high heart and confidence into 2021, knowing that there are great opportunities for Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

From Perth to Perth: What is Boris Johnson’s ‘Australia-style’ Brexit deal?

Mr Johnson, later appearing at a Downing Street press conference, was asked what gift he would be giving to Ms Sturgeon for Christmas.

He responded: “As for a present for Nicola, well, there’s all sorts of things that will arise naturally from the UK getting a new relationship with our friends in the European Union.”

“But one thing that may be of particular interest to the people of Scotland is that they will become the proud possessors of hundreds of thousands of tonnes of fish, shellfish, crustaceans.

“I don’t know whether Nicola’s a keen fish eater but she’ll have more than she could possibly consume herself for a very, very long time. So how about that, will that do?”

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