Politics

Fishing chief warns French will use ‘militant tactics and burn boats’ in Brexit blockade

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French President Emmanuel Macron is sticking to his guns as he fights hard for French boats to get as much as they can in any post-Brexit trade deal between Brussels and London. Trawlers in France will have the most to lose among EU fishermen as the bloc’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) entitles them to hoover up vast amounts of fish in the UK’s bountiful waters, including 84 percent of the cod in the Channel.

Don Thompson, president of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, has warned the French will not give up access without a fight and predicts they will stage a hugely disruptive blockade of their ports on Christmas week.

He said given the sheer scale of the benefits currently enjoyed by the French, industry bosses are bound to be furious come January 1, after the Brexit transition period ends, whether there is a deal or not.

The fishing veteran who has dealt with French fishermen for the past 20 years says he has no doubt they will “react aggressively” to the changes.

Mr Thompson told Express.co.uk he has gotten wind of a secret plot being drawn up by the French to blockade ports on December 20.

He said: “We suspect the blockade will carry on for quite some time. That is just French militant disruptive tactics to pressurise their own government into taking action.

“We know that whatever the outcome of Brexit there will be blockades that will impact on our fishermen because many of them land directly into France.

“I spoke to a number of our fishermen yesterday who land directly in France and they have vowed to go to France to try to land their catch on December 20.

“The demands of French fishermen and President Macron for what they want out of Brexit just cannot be met. They have the lion’s share.

“There is an absolute certainty that the French are going to have to deal with a very different playing field in terms of fisheries after December 31.”

Mr Thompson said anyone wondering what lengths French fishermen would go to in a bid to make their fury known should look back to the 2015 protests by French farmers who attacked British lorries filled with produce.

The farmers tore out £200,000 worth of fish and set fire to it in protest over cheap imports which they claimed were driving down the prices of their own products.

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Mr Thompson warned we could see a repeat of the aggression shown by the French once again.

But he said Britain should and must not be intimidated by such tactics, as the UK holds more power than France when it comes to fishing.

He said: “The French are capable of some fairly aggressive tactics, burning boats or anything is a possibility.

“The French are quite militant. But the state with the resources will always win in the end.

“We should never capitulate to intimidation and aggression but we’re going to have to face that when it comes in late December and beyond.

“The situation will change post-Brexit and French fishermen are just not going to be happy with it won’t be happy with it but they are just going to have to get used to it in time.”

Fishing rights remains one of the main sticking points in negotiations led by chief negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier.

While the EU wants a long-term deal on fisheries while the UK wants a fresh round of negotiations to take place annually.

Fishing accounts for only a tiny percentage of the UK’s GDP but it has the potential to stymie a free trade deal with the bloc due to how central the issue is to the Brexit cause.

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