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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Fish, Baby Milk Join Beef In EU, Britain Food Fight

LONDON -- Britain was locked in an angry war of words with the European Union on Thursday over beef, fish and baby milk but Finance Minister Kenneth Clarke said he hoped London's stalling tactics could end soon.

Rocky relations have plunged to a new low with the European Commission, the EU's executive body, accusing Prime Minister John Major of taking hostages with his campaign to paralyze the 15-nation bloc's business until a ban on British beef is lifted in a crisis of consumer confidence over mad cow disease.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Clarke, a leading pro-European in Major's cabinet, said he hoped the non-cooperation tactic could end before next month's EU summit in Italy.

"If we get absolutely no response from the other European countries, it's likely to go on indefinitely. I don't think this is likely," Clarke said in an interview with The Times.

EU Commission President Jacques Santer said Britain's stand was counter-productive because other EU dossiers were being taken hostage as a result of it.

A decision to cut fishing fleets by 40 percent was greeted with howls of protest. Lawmakers warned it would fuel anti-EU feeling in Britain.

Then the European Commission asked Britain speedily to provide information on test results that showed leading brands of baby milk contain chemicals that could impair fertility.

But Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind said Santer's comments were only to be expected given Britain's tactics.

He denied that either the fishing cuts or the call for a report on baby milks was part of "Europe's revenge."

tried to dispel the storm clouds gathering in the growing confrontation between London and the EU headquarters in Brussels.