Nigel Farage issues warning over 'confrontation' with France
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Adding to the punishment, Mr Macron has also said an increase in customs checks would occur on trucks arriving from the UK, further fueling the bitter dispute between London and Paris. Not forgetting the promise to reconsider other forms of sanctions, Gabriel Attal echoed the warnings of France’s Europe Minister, Clement Beanue, the supply of electricity to the Channel Islands could also be targeted.
Although initial plans by French government officials were to shut off the supply altogether, a price increase is now thought to be the most likely approach.
France argues that under the Brexit agreement, 175 French fishing boats had been promised the right to fish in British mainland waters with an approved licence, however, only around 100 have been issued.
Licences were issued to fleets that could prove they regularly fished the area prior to the Brexit agreement, with the onus on the French to prove this was the case per individual licence.
Focusing on the Channel Islands, and Jersey in particular, France says it was expecting 216 licences to fish there, but only received 105.
Speaking of the situation, Mr Attal said: “Things are clear and we have said that we won’t let the British wipe their feet on the Brexit agreement.”
“In concrete terms, the French government has established a list of licences to which we have the right. We have been working with the British and we have given them all the data, all the documents, all the information they request in support of these applications.”
Mr Attal also said: “What we see today is that 50 percent of the licences we have the right to are missing… This is a situation that is not acceptable and I say clearly that our patience has run out.”
The measures are due to commence on Tuesday with the “systematic customs and sanitary inspections on imported products arriving in Channel ports, a ban on disembarking seafood products as well, and checks on lorries.”
The current value of the French market on seafood to British fishermen is around £561.1 million per year and accounts for 27.7 percent of total exports.
Seeing a ban on British caught fish would have a significantly negative impact on British fishermens’ livelihoods, and could be used as a lever in negotiations between Paris and London.
“Our wish is that the agreement that was signed should be respected. Our patience has run out and there is a manifest desire in Britain not to respect the agreement.”
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France has sought backing from other European nations in the battle to obtain licences, however, the European Commission has called for a diplomatic solution to the problem.
Fishermen in France have so far claimed that the negotiations have been too timid between Paris and London and could take matters into their own hands.
Olivier Leretre, chairman of the Regional Fishing Committee in Hauts-de-France says his members are considering blocking products being exported to the UK from France at the Calais ferry port.
Such a move could see thousands of lorries being stopped from crossing the channel, meaning fresh goods, produce, meat and dairy items could perish.
For Emmanuel Macron, the fishing wars as they have been dubbed by some could be a make-or-break move as he approaches the end of his first term in office prior to the elections.
With a first term riddled with issues, from the yellow vest movement to the poor handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, Mr Macron is under pressure to deliver to the electorate.
With many of France’s fishermen living in the North of the country, far-right candidates, who traditionally perform well in the North, will be targeting the area in an attempt to displace the incumbent President after just one term.
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