Now French say they’ll blockade UK in a fortnight: Fishermen threaten to ‘go on the attack’ and cut off Christmas supplies if they don’t get more access to British waters
- French gave Britain two weeks to give more access to waters or face being cut off from supplies
- Ultimatum comes a day after skippers vowed to block Calais and Channel Tunnel
- Possible revenge follows refusal of permits for 35 French trawlers by Britain
French fishing barons have given Britain two weeks to grant them more access to its waters or face being cut off from crucial Christmas supplies.
They handed down the ultimatum a day after skippers vowed to block the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel unless their demands were met.
‘The British have got two weeks to react and then we will go on the attack,’ said Olivier Lepretre, the chairman of the northern France fisheries committee.
The fisherman raised the prospect of the possible revenge move after the British government refused to issue permits for 35 small trawlers to fish between six and 12 miles off the UK coast.
French fishing barons have given Britain two weeks to grant them more access to its waters or face being cut off from crucial Christmas supplies (file image)
French boats were free to fish in the six-to-12 mile zone when the UK was in the EU, but now have to prove that they previously did so. France says they should keep the same level of access, accusing Britain of breaching the Brexit trade deal.
Christophe Lomel, a Boulogne skipper, said: ‘It’s illogical – licences have been given to boats which hardly ever go to British waters. I’ve been going there for 35 years and have not been given a licence.’ But Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab yesterday dismissed those claims, telling Paris that the changes were a result of Brexit.
‘What the French need to adjust to is the new reality as we have left the EU,’ he told TalkRadio. ‘They can’t expect to have the kind of quotas they had previously (with) unlimited access.’
In Brussels, Eurocrats refused to be drawn on whether Britain had failed to live up to the agreement it signed with the EU last year. A European Commission spokesman said only that it was ‘a top priority for the bloc to achieve ‘continuity’ for EU skippers.
They handed down the ultimatum a day after skippers vowed to block the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel unless their demands were met (file image)
But one senior EU diplomat claimed France was ‘overplaying’ the row ahead of next year’s presidential election. The source said: ‘It looks good for President Macron right now to be tough on the British.’
The Brexit trade agreement, signed by both sides last year, reduces the catch for EU trawlers in British waters by 25 per cent over five-years. After that expires, access will be negotiated on an annual basis.
The French government wants other EU members to support their push for Britain to be brought before an arbitration panel set up to thrash out post-Brexit disputes.
The country’s maritime ministry said yesterday that French ministers would unveil retaliatory measures ‘in the second half of October’. Annick Giradin, the French maritime minister, has raised the possibility of cutting electricity supplies to Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey.
Senior Tory MP David Jones urged Mr Macron (pictured) to ‘dial down the rhetoric’ adding: ‘Resorting to gangsterism, which is what this effectively is, can never be justified’
Britain and France have already clashed in recent months over an Australian submarine deal, the EU’s bid to block life-saving jabs arriving in the UK, and the Northern Ireland protocol.
Former Cabinet minister Theresa Villiers said: ‘This is an unacceptable attempt at bullying. Ministers should stand firm.’
Senior Tory MP David Jones urged Mr Macron to ‘dial down the rhetoric’ adding: ‘Resorting to gangsterism, which is what this effectively is, can never be justified’.
France’s foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said differences with Britain were getting bigger and it was up to London to offer ideas to improve relations. ‘The ball is in their court,’ he added.
NABILA RAMDANI: These threats from ‘Admiral Macron’ shame my country
By Nabila Ramdani for the Daily Mail
Angry French workers often burn barricades and launch savage attacks on the police during demonstrations. The republic was built by citizens who would stop at nothing – including liberal use of the guillotine – to get what they want.
The latest target is the British Christmas. Yesterday the Daily Mail revealed how French fishermen, angry at the delay in receiving licences to tap into British waters, have threatened to blockade food from France, creating more headaches for families already under pressure to stock up on frozen turkeys and chocolate.
This outrageous action comes hot on the heels of threats to cut power to Jersey – potentially affecting schools and hospitals in the coldest months of the year – and the news that France allegedly ‘stole’ five million Covid vaccines destined for Britain at the beginning of this year.
‘Unless Boris backs down, the Brits will not have so many nice things to eat this Christmas,’ Olivier Lepretre, head of the northern France fisheries committee, said earlier this week. ‘I hope it doesn’t come to that.’
Emmanuel Macron’s high-handed attitude to the Brexit negotiations made every step more difficult. Even the French media are now comparing our head of state to Napoleon Bonaparte, suggesting that ‘Napo-Macron’ wants to use sea blockades to ‘starve the English’ into compliance
As a French woman, I can only feel ashamed. This sense of rowdy entitlement is not just about angry workers; it extends from bottom to top, as the British know all too well.
Emmanuel Macron’s high-handed attitude to the Brexit negotiations made every step more difficult. Even the French media are now comparing our head of state to Napoleon Bonaparte, suggesting that ‘Napo-Macron’ wants to use sea blockades to ‘starve the English’ into compliance.
The EU Commission should pull France into line and stop this bickering before it gets out of hand. The alternative is calling on the Royal Navy, which could have serious consequences.
Responsible politicians should be outraged by such guerrilla tactics, but not in France, where there has been no attempt to condemn the fishermen’s unlawful reprisals whatsoever.
On the contrary, senior Macron lieutenants have made it clear they want to add to the sabotage by preventing British fishermen delivering fish to France.
They would also like to toughen up customs and veterinary checks on all vehicles arriving from the UK, causing increased delays.
As a French woman, I can only feel ashamed. This sense of rowdy entitlement is not just about angry workers; it extends from bottom to top, as the British know all too well
Most shameful, however, is the threat to cut power to British sovereign territory as part of the fishing row. Clement Beaune, Mr Macron’s Europe minister, has implied that electricity supplies to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, which are provided by two undersea cables from France, could be interrupted within days.
‘We defend our interests,’ Mr Beaune fumed. ‘We do it nicely and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work, we take measures. 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.’
If all this suggests that the Macron government is still extremely bitter about Britain’s historic decision to leave the EU, then it’s because it still is.
Indeed, it would be fair to say the latest salvo in the so-called ‘Scallop War’ is simply another battle in France’s never-ending hostility towards Brexit.
The influential Paris investigative weekly Le Canard Enchaine (The Chained Duck) summed up the situation in its latest edition, saying: ‘France has called for a common European front against the UK.’
This means ‘Admiral Macron’ – as he is dubbed – using sea blockades, in the style of the Napoleonic Wars. ‘So he wants to starve the English?’ the magazine asks, as it compares him to Napoleon, the dictator who was constantly at war with the British. ‘Napo-Macron will establish a new continental blockade, like his illustrious predecessor.’
Clement Beaune (pictured), Mr Macron’s Europe minister, has implied that electricity supplies to the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, which are provided by two undersea cables from France, could be interrupted within days
The Napoleonic parallels were clear last May when two Royal Navy gunships steamed to Jersey after dozens of French boats blockaded the island’s harbour.
Mr Macron originally described Brexit as a ‘crime’ and has done all he can to undermine Anglo-French relations since.
Last year, he caused outrage by suggesting the UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was ‘quasi-ineffective’ among the over-65s, and that the over-60s should ‘not be encouraged’ by its results.
Now it has emerged that Mr Macron allegedly plotted with EU bigwigs to halt exports of the jabs, in what has been described by one British Government source as ‘an act of war’. President Macron has also been accused of stirring up violence by insisting that the post-Brexit UK must stick to the Northern Ireland Protocol, despite the threat this poses to peace and stability in the region.
His ministers have also taken up hardline positions in the never-ending dispute over thousands of unregistered migrants travelling from northern France to the coast of England in small boats.
Few have failed to note the irony in the French enabling desperate migrants to enter the UK with ease, while blockading goods.
Mr Macron is determined to win a second five-year term and establish himself as the de facto EU leader after the retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel (pictured)
Mr Macron is also angry with Britain over its alliance with Australia and the US, which has resulted in a £50billion-plus French contract to build submarines for Australia being scrapped.
Mr Beaune said dismissively that far from becoming Global Britain, the Aukus alliance was ‘a return into the American lap and a form of accepted vassalisation’.
A common thread in these face-offs is the fact that Mr Macron and his cronies are preparing for a presidential election in April. Mr Macron is determined to win a second five-year term and establish himself as the de facto EU leader after the retirement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
As France moves further to the Right, Mr Macron knows he has to attract extreme nationalist voters to defeat rivals such as Marine Le Pen of the National Rally party.
An obvious way of doing this is for ‘Napo-Macron’ to take on his country’s historic enemy at every opportunity, so prepare for Britain to be blamed for every French ill in the coming months. He might not win every battle, but if Mr Macron finds himself back inside the Elysee Palace, his aggression will have served him well – whatever it does for Britain’s relations with one of its closest neighbours.
- Nabila Ramdani is a French-Algerian journalist, broadcaster and academic specialising in Anglo-French issues
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