French fisherman supports retaliation over fishing row
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Olivier Lepretre, chairman of the powerful northern France fisheries committee, vowed to “hit the British economy” unless more vessels were issued licences to operate in UK waters. He did not go into details as to how he was plotting to damage Britain, but he has previously threatened to block the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel.
Any such action would have a huge impact on the UK’s supply chain, stopping imports travelling from the continent.
It would likely slow down the time it takes for Christmas presents to arrive in Britain bringing misery to millions of families across the country on December 25.
Giving an ultimatum to the Government, Mr Lepretre said in Boulogne-sur-Mer last night: “It is out of the question to do anything that will harm the French economy.
“We will disrupt British interests.
“Let them give us the licences.
“Otherwise, we will cut them off.”
Earlier this year French fishermen prepared to block Jersey’s main port of Saint Helier.
Similarly angry at the Channel Islands not issuing licences, they threatened to block Jersey’s main access to supplies.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was forced to deploy the Royal Navy in order to protect the port.
Under the terms of the EU trade and cooperation agreement signed last year, European vessels which have historically accessed British waters must be issued fishing licences to allow them to continue to do so.
France has accused the UK of failing to honour its commitments under the deal, claiming the Government is holding back licences.
Britain says it has issued permits to all vessels which have provided the necessary paperwork.
Officials say 98 of all licence requests have been granted to date and the UK is continuing to work with the European Commission and fisheries to help provide more licences where possible.
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Last night France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune said Emmanuel Macron’s government was still “not at all” satisfied with the number of licences vessels had received.
Adding his own threats to those made by Mr Lepretre, he said Paris would consider tighter customs checks and a ban on British trawlers landing catches in French ports if the UK did not cave.
He said: “We still have all options on the table, including these measures.
“We will prefer to have it on the EU level but if nothing happens at the EU level we will take French measures.”
He added: “If we want to work together on defence, and security, and foreign policy, and crises like the one we see in Belarus, or maybe in Ukraine, in the Balkans, which is a big concern for the UK as well, you need trust and to be true to your words.
“If we have doubts, it’ll never work.
“So I say to the UK again, this is in your best interest to settle this.”
France had vowed to take imminent action earlier this month unless more licences were issued but did not follow through.
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