Britain must be punished for Brexit to show other EU states that ‘leaving is more damaging than remaining’, France’s prime minister has said in a furious letter.
In what is a further escalation of Britain’s ongoing row with it’s Channel neighbour over fishing rights, Jean Castex wrote to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in an attempt to get backing for a new hard line stance against the UK.
Paris has so far threatened to increase checks on British boats, to initiate a ‘go-slow’ strategy with Calais customs arrangements, stop UK fishing vessels from landing in French ports and to increase tariffs on energy bills in Jersey.
They are demanding that Britain grants more licenses to French fishermen to access British waters.
The fishing row stepped up a gear on Friday after a UK trawler was detained by France amid fears the friction could spark a full-blown trade war. The Cornelis Gert Jan was ordered to divert to Le Havre after French authorities said it did not have a licence.
The trawler’s boss claimed his vessel was being used as a ‘pawn’ in the fishing dispute and blasted the ‘politically motivated’ French.
On Friday Mr Johnson stressed that the Government will do ‘whatever is necessary’ to ensure that British fishing fleets can go about their ‘lawfulMercedes limousine from Paris, as one confirmed: ‘We are here to see the British nationals’
Speaking to reporters en route to the G20 summit in Rome tonight, Mr Johnson stressed that he did not believe Mr Macron himself – who is facing a presidential election battle next spring – was making threats.
Mr Johnson said: ‘France is one of our best oldest closest allies, friends and partners.
‘The ties that unite us and bind us together are far stronger than the turbulence that currently exists in the relationship.
‘That is what I will say to Emmanuel who is a friend I have known for many years.’
But in an apparent dig at Mr Beaune and other allies of the French president, he said: ‘There may be people on both sides of the Channel who may think they have an interest in promoting disharmony between the UK and France, promoting the impression of disharmony between the UK and France.
‘I don’t think Emmanuel shares that perspective personally at all.’
Mr Johnson said: ‘On the particular issues that we have, we are puzzled about what is going on. We fear that there may be a breach of the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement implicit on what is happening and some of the things that are being said. We stand by to take the appropriate action.’
Sailors aboard the Cornelis Gert Jan trawler vowed to toast the Queen with Scotch Whisky from their Union Jack mugs
The Cornelis Gert Jan (pictured on Friday) was ordered to divert to Le Havre after French authorities said it did not have a licence
It comes after Environment Secretary George Eustice today urged France to drop its ‘unacceptable’ fishing row threats. Pictured: The crew appeared to be in high spirits onboard the scallop trawler this afternoon
Asked about claims France is ready to disrupt trade over Christmas in the dispute, Mr Johnson said: ‘We will do whatever is necessary to ensure UK interests. But I haven’t heard that from our French friends. I would be surprised if they adopted that approach.’
It comes after Lord Frost today warned Brussels that Britain will carry out ‘rigorous checks’ on all EU fishing boats in UK waters if goes through with threats to block British vessels from French ports.
A rumbling row over post-Brexit fishing licences escalated this week as Paris threatened action if the UK does not grant permission to more French boats to work in British waters.
French ministers have said they could block British boats from ports and tighten checks on vessels if the UK does not give in by Tuesday next week.
Lord Frost, the Government’s chief, met with his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic in today for talks on improving the Protocol.
But the fishing row was also brought up as Lord Frost set out his ‘concerns about the unjustified measures’ threatened by France.
Lord Frost today warned Brussels that Britain will carry out ‘rigorous checks’ on all EU fishing boats in UK waters if France goes through with threats to block British vessels from French ports
Lord Frost, the Government’s Brexit chief, met with his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic in London today for talks on improving the Northern Ireland Protocol