Brexit: Fishing row could be ‘getting ugly’ says Andy Mayer
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Downing Street is keeping a close eye on movements by Emmanuel Macron’s Government from across the Channel as post-Brexit talks over the granting of fishing licenses for French vessels to fish in UK waters continues, according to The Sun. France has now upped the ante and reportedly wants to increase import taxes on British goods. But if it is unable to get enough support from the European Union to make this move, it could still order more physical checks on goods, triggering huge traffic tailbacks at Dover and Calais.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex could be ready to warn UK and EU negotiators they have until the end of Friday to come to terms on the matter.
Later on Tuesday he is set to detail a package of mooted reprisals which could come into effect as early as next Monday.
The reported punishments could include cutting off energy supplies to the UK – in particular Jersey – and blocking Britain’s fishing fleet from accessing French ports.
Last week, France set a two-week deadline for Britain and Jersey to give French fishermen greater access to their coastal waters.
The French have been left furious after the UK approved just 15 permits out of 47 applications for small French fishing boats to operate in its territorial waters.
Jersey, which relies on France for 95 per cent of its electricity supply issued 66 full licenses and 31 temporary permits, but refused 73 applications.
EU boats have been given until the end of this month to provide data to prove their right to fish in the Channel Island’s waters after Brexit.
During a meeting with the European Commission and representatives of the fishing industry from France, French maritime minister Annick Girardin gave Britain and Jersey until November 1 to approve more licences.
The minister reportedly told European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic and Virginijus Sinkevicius, the commissioner responsible for fisheries, that France is ready to strike back if Britain and Jersey do not grant more licenses to its fishermen, according to The Daily Telegraph.
French President Mr Macron also reportedly told his Government to draw up plans or reprisals against Britain in four areas.
These include cutting energy supplies to the UK and Jersey or scrapping ties between the two countries on defence and security.
Earlier this month, French fishing industry representatives threatened to block the port of Calais and stop exports to the UK in the run-up to Christmas.
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This came after French Europe minister Clement Beaune warned EU member states are preparing to announce measures to apply pressure on the UK to abide by the terms of the Brexit deal.
He raged: “We defend our interests. We do it nicely, and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work, we take measures.
“For example, we can imagine, since we’re talking about energy, the United Kingdom depends on our energy supplies.
“It thinks that it can live all alone, and bash Europe.”
But the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost hit back, rejecting claims from the French that Britain has not been abiding by the agreed deal.
He said: “We have granted 98 percent of the licence applications from EU boats to fish in our waters according to the different criteria in the Trade and Co-operation Agreement, so we do not accept that we are not abiding by that agreement.
“We have been extremely generous and the French, focusing in on a small category of boats and claiming we have behaved unreasonably, I think is not really a fair reflection of the efforts we have made.”
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