We are not naive! Beaune issues new Brexit threats HOURS after shaking hands with Frost

George Eustice slams Beaune's 'inflammatory' language

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The French Europe minister met with the UK Brexit minister in Paris on Thursday. No breakthroughs were announced following the meeting but the two were photographed shaking hands and smiling at the end of the talks.

The diplomatic storm was triggered by France threatening sanctions over what it perceives as a refusal to issue licences to its trawlers to operate in UK waters.

Following the latest meeting, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said the French government had assured it will not immediately restore the threats as talks continue.

“They’ve made it clear to us they’re not planning to introduce them in the short-term. Both sides are keen to have further discussions,” he said.

But a mere few hours later, Mr Beaune appeared on French TV LCI to brag about France’s threats to the UK and issue further threats.

He said: “Many countries, especially those that are far from the coast, think Brexit was a bad affair, a bad memory, but they say it’s behind them now.

“Not true. In order to build trust and to build a relationship for the future, we must first respect the agreements we have signed.

“This is what the President of the Republic reminded Boris Johnson publicly.

“A great democracy, a great neighbour that does not respect its commitments, is a problem for us, but it is mainly a problem for them.

“I ask them to respect the agreements: it’s in everyone’s interest.”

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Bragging about his negotiations tactics, he added: “We have retaliatory measures. When we mentioned them to the British, it unblocked the dialogue.

“We are not naive, we are giving ourselves a few days to see if this dialogue is a facade or if it is real.”

He then reiterated he was ready to apply the “retaliatory measures” previously announced.

“We are not asking to renegotiate the Brexit agreement, we are asking to apply it,” he continued, adding he was “cautiously optimistic”.

Mr Beaune said he had been happy to meet Lord Frost to “relaunch the necessary dialogue and ensure the implementation of our agreements”.

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The UK Government has insisted the overwhelming majority of applications for licences have been granted.

French President Emmanuel Macron delayed the imposition of punitive measures while talks between the UK, France and the European Commission take place.

Paris has insisted the measures – which could include a ban on British trawlers landing their catches in French ports and tighter customs checks to hamper cross-Channel trade – remain “on the table” if a deal cannot be reached.

French Government spokesman Gabriel Attal has underlined the threat of sanctions remains: “As you know, the control measures that we announced are still suspended but all options are on the table, and we may need to implement those measures if we do not reach an agreement.”

Under the Brexit deal, EU boats which can show they have fished in British waters in at least four of the years from 2012 to 2016 are eligible for a licence.

Some 1,831 applications for licences have been received, with 1,793 issued.

The main source of contention has been for smaller vessels, the under 12-metre category fishing between six and 12 nautical miles off the coast, where 50 applications have been received – all from French vessels – but just 19 have been issued.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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