Jersey: Fisherman criticises France over electricity ‘threat’
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Daniel Kawczynski was speaking at a time when French fishing vessels were apparently in retreat after the arrival of boats including HMS Severn and HMS Tamar. The French ships had previously threatened to block the port – and received tacit support from Annick Girardin, the France maritime minister, in France’s National Assembly.
In an extraordinary intervention which triggered alarm bells in London, Mrs Girardin suggested her country could turn off Jersey’s electricity supply in retaliation for Jersey’s decision to issue 41 fishing licences with unilaterally imposed conditions, including the time French fishing vessels could spend in its waters.
Mr Kawczynski told Express.co.uk: “It is clearly very, very concerning, these sort of very aggressive threats.
“Cutting off somebody’s electricity is tantamount to threatening very serious, deprivation on the people of Jersey.
“It’s a bully-boy tactic designed to intimidate the people of a small island.
“What they don’t seem to understand is that we have a bond with the people of Jersey.
“I had the privilege of visiting that island on three occasions, and there is no way that the British Government would allow any of that to take place without serious ramifications.”
Mr Kawczynski highlighted what he characterised as the aggressive stance of French trade unionists, farmers and fishermen over the years, which he said justified a firm approach.
He added: “I’m obviously delighted that the Prime Minister has sent these naval vessels to Jersey as a very strong sign that we simply can’t accept this sort of language.
“By all means, let’s continue to negotiate and evolve our bilateral relationship.
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“But I think, I think there’s sort of words emanating from certain causes in Paris perhaps, demonstrates that they have not yet got to grips with Britain becoming an independent sovereign nation.”
With Parliament reconvening on Monday, Shrewsbury and Atcham MP Mr Kawczynski said he and colleagues would be pressing the Government to hold firm on the issue.
He explained: “We want to see undiluted resolve, and resilience from the Prime Minister and his team.
“We stand by the people in Jersey, and the people of the Channel Islands, and we will observe and protect our own maritime resources.
“And we will not allow either trade unions fishermen, nor the government to intimidate us into caving in to unreasonable demands which will put our own fishermen’s livelihoods at risk.”
Mr Kawczynski also suggested French fishermen should be grateful for what they have got following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
He said: “Already from the agreement that I’ve read, they have, I would argue too much access.
“This is one of the areas that we’ve had to compromise on.
“Many people in the United Kingdom as they were aware of the very generous access that we’ve given the French, and Belgium’s to our waters would realise how unreasonably they’re behaving.”
Tracking data showed French vessels departing St Helier this afternoon after a blockade of the port in the morning.
However, speaking today, Hugo Lehuby, spokesman for the Normandy Regional Fisheries Committee, said talks with island officials had proven fruitless.
He added: “We’re getting deeper into deadlock. Either this gets resolved, or retaliatory measures are taken.”
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