Fisherman says post-Brexit fishing deal is ‘bias’
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French fishermen have vowed to block the Channel Tunnel linking France to the UK in protest after Britain rejected three-quarters of French post-Brexit fishing licences. France accused Britain of playing politics with fishing rules after only granting licences to 12 out of 47 applications that would allow small French boats to fish in British territorial waters.
Now, the chief of a powerful fisheries committee in France warned if negotiations fail, they will stop all EU products from reaching Britain.
Olivier Lepretre said: “If negotiating fails, we will stop all French and European products reaching the UK, and we will stop all British products reaching Europe.
“Unless Boris backs down, the Brits will not have so many nice things to eat this Christmas.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
This comes just days after French member of parliament for Boulogne-sur-Mer Jean-Pierre Pont said French fishermen could block the Channel Tunnel in protest.
He said: “Since the British are refusing to honour what they signed, as with other Anglo-Saxons in another area, the French fishermen of Boulogne-sur-Mer may be obliged, after nine months of useless patience, to envisage ways to retaliate against the UK – for example by blocking ports or the entry of lorries towards the UK through the tunnel.”
But the UK Government defended their decision on the number of licences allocated and said they were made in line with the “Trade and Cooperation Agreement”.
Sources also played down France’s threats and stressed the importance of “constructive discussions”.
One Whitehall source said talks with the European Commission and France on the issue had been “cordial”.
They added the comments from France were “unhelpful” and made clear: “We want a cooperative relationship with our neighbours, not political threats.”
The European Commission also came under pressure from French MEPs to introduce retaliatory measures which are warranted under the UK’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union.
The row over Channel fishing rights reached boiling point in May when Britain sent two Royal Navy gunships to Jersey after dozens of French fishing boats vowed to block the island’s harbour.
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France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune warned the dispute was putting UK power supplies at risk. “The Channel Islands, the UK, are dependent on us for their energy supply.
“They think they can live on their own and badmouth Europe as well.
“And because it doesn’t work, they indulge in one-upmanship, and in an aggressive way.”
French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned Paris could take legal action under arbitration provisions set out in the Brexit deal.
He told French MPs: “Britain does not respect its own signature.
“Month after month, the UK presents new conditions and delays giving definitive licences. This cannot be tolerated.”
However, Brexit minister Lord Frost told the Conservative conference delegates: “We have been extremely generous and the French are focusing in on a small category of boats.
“We would have liked a different sort of fisheries deal.
“We get control of our waters eventually but we agreed this deal and we are implementing it in good faith, so I think it is unreasonable to suggest we are not.”
Former Tory Cabinet Minister David Jones also warned British consumers could boycott French goods if the blockade goes ahead.
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