10:38 GMT26 February 2021
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    Last week, a senior UK government minister suggested that by introducing a permanent ban on imports of live British shellfish, the EU is seeking to punish Britain "for daring to become a nation-state" following Brexit.

    The British government may restrict the import of European bottled mineral water into the country in retaliation for the EU's refusal to end its blockade on UK shellfish, The Telegraph cited unnamed sources as saying on Sunday.

    The sources claimed ministers are considering tit-for-tat measures that include proposals dubbed "Water Wars" stipulating the UK ending a spate of "continuity arrangements" that London earlier concluded with Brussels.

    "There is thought being given to where we can leverage in other areas. We have continuity arrangements […] we can stop these which means they won't be able to sell their produce here", the insiders said, referring to imports of European seed potatoes, among other things.

    "The escalated contingency planning" reportedly came after European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides refused to meet UK Environment Secretary George Eustice in an attempt to try and resolve the shellfish ban-related row.

    Earlier in February, Brussels refused to scrap its blockade of UK shellfish, telling British fishermen that they are barred indefinitely from selling live mussels, oysters, clams, and cockles from the UK's so-called "Class B" waters to EU member states.

    The move means that as a separate country now, the UK is not allowed to transport live shellfish to EU countries unless they have already been treated in special purification plants.

    Eustice, for his part, slammed Brussels' ban on unpurified mollusks as an "indefensible" decision that he warned may devastate the country's fishing industry.

    He was echoed by David Frost, the UK's chief Brexit negotiator, who is currently tasked with tackling the shellfish spat.

    "I think it's been more than bumpy, to be honest. I think it's been problematic. I hope we'll get over this", Frost said, referring to the row.

    The remarks came after more than 20 shellfish trucks, including one with the slogan "Brexit carnage", parked just metres from 10 Downing Street in central London in mid-January.

    The shellfish exporters explained that they were protesting against post-Brexit bureaucracy, which they claimed is hampering their businesses.

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    shellfish, ban, mineral water, Brexit, EU, Britain
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