Politics

‘Napoleon Macron’ using Brexit fishing row as shameless election push – French expert

Fishing: Expect 'retaliation' from licence blocks says French minister

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The bitter war of words with Brexit Britain erupted after a UK trawler was detained in a French port in a row triggered by France claiming there are not enough licences for its boats to fish in UK waters. French ministers have ramped up tensions by warning they will block British boats from some of the country’s ports and tighten checks on vessels travelling between France and the UK. The EU superpower wants the issue resolved by Tuesday or will inflict retaliatory measures, which could include cutting off electricity supply to the Channel Islands.

Mr Macron has continued to be critical of Brexit and the UK’s negotiating tactics with the EU when thrashing out the Withdrawal Agreement and trade deal between the two sides.

Now a French journalist has turned the tables on the President, claiming he is using the “seaborne battles with the British” to boost his own election campaign in 2022.

Nabila Ramdani wrote for MailOnline: “Mr Macron, of course, despises Brexit and he is clearly keen to force a confrontation with Britain over it at every opportunity.

He undermined the Oxford Covid jab, for instance, and jeopardised its rollout in Europe.

“He has also been mischief-making over the highly sensitive issue of the Northern Ireland protocol.

“Meanwhile, there is constant friction about the number of immigrants crossing to England on small boats from the coast of France.

“Mr Macron is also still fuming after losing out to Britain and the US when Australia cancelled a £60billion contract to buy French submarines.

She added: “Above all, though, he is in the throes of an election campaign.

“Winning a second term is his priority. Ultra-nationalistic voters expect to see their politicians standing up for their interests, and Mr Macron wants to play to the gallery by outperforming both Le Pen and Zemmour.

“Seaborne battles with the British are an obvious way of doing this for the new Napoleon.”

But the French journalist warned Mr Macron will be in “serious trouble” if he “sacrifices any pretence of being a diplomatically-minded statesman”.

She concluded: “Mr Macron needs to jettison his pugilism, start negotiating with Britain in a manner that is civilised and constructive, and finally respect the post-Brexit order.”

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Britain has fired back with a vengeance to the retaliatory threats from France by warning “two can play that game”.

Environment Secretary has not ruled out the UK blocking French vessels and reacted furiously to a claim from France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune that the only language Britain understands is “the language of force”.

Mr Eustice told BBC Breakfast on Friday: “That is completely inflammatory and is the wrong way to go about things.”

When asked how the UK will respond if France follows through with a threat to block British trawlers, the Cabinet minister warned: “Two can play at that game.

“If the French obviously do continue with this, then yes, we will take a proportionate response to that.”

He added: “It’s always open to us to increase the enforcement we do on French vessels, to board more of them if that’s what they’re doing to our vessels – there are other administrative things we can require of vessels.”

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