French minister Beaune: French fishermen must not pay for UK's…

‘Threatening us will not settle the supply of turkey at Christmas’: France warns Britain it faces a festive goods blockade, saying their fishermen must not pay for UK’s Brexit ‘failure’

  • European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune lashed out at the UK’s Brexit ‘failures’ 
  • Said France’s trawlermen would not ‘pay the price’ for the UK’s decision to leave
  • Latest threat from France in dispute over access to rich UK fishing waters

A French minister today threatened to cut off supplies of Christmas turkeys unless continental fishermen are allowed to work in British waters.

Paris’s noisy European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune lashed out at the UK’s Brexit ‘failures’ and said that France’s trawlermen would not ‘pay the price’ for the UK’s decision to leave.

It is the latest threat from across the channel in a dispute over access to rich fishing grounds from next year.

French fishing barons earlier this week gave Britain two weeks to grant them more access to its waters or face being cut off from crucial Christmas supplies.

They handed down the ultimatum a day after skippers vowed to block the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel unless their demands were met.

 Speaking to BFM TV in France today Mr Baume – one of Emmanuel Macron’s most outspoken ministers, vented on the subject again. 

‘They failed on Brexit. It was a bad choice. Threatening us, threatening our fishermen, will not settle their supply of turkey at Christmas,’ he said.

‘We will hold firm. The Brits need us to sell their products.’

Paris’s noisy European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune lashed out at the UK’s Brexit ‘failures’ and said that France’s trawlermen would not ‘pay the price’ for the UK’s decision to leave.

French Fishermen previously blockaded Jersey over access to Channel Island waters.

French boats were free to fish in the six-to-12 mile zone when the UK was in the EU, but now have to prove that they previously did so. France says they should keep the same level of access, accusing Britain of breaching the Brexit trade deal. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said France was ready to review bilateral cooperation with Britain if London continues to ignore the agreement reached over fishing rights in its post-Brexit trading relationship with the European Union.

Paris is infuriated by London’s refusal to grant what it considers the full number of licenses due to French fishing boats to operate in Britain’s territorial waters, and is threatening retaliatory measures.

French fishermen have also said they could block the northern port of Calais and Channel Tunnel rail link, both major transit points for trade between Britain and continental Europe, if London does not grant more fishing licences in the next 17 days. 

They previously blockaded Jersey over access to Channel Island waters. 

In Brussels, Eurocrats refused to be drawn on whether Britain had failed to live up to the agreement it signed with the EU last year. A European Commission spokesman said only that it was ‘a top priority for the bloc to achieve ‘continuity’ for EU skippers. 

But one senior EU diplomat claimed France was ‘overplaying’ the row ahead of next year’s presidential election. The source said: ‘It looks good for President Macron right now to be tough on the British.’

The Brexit trade agreement, signed by both sides last year, reduces the catch for EU trawlers in British waters by 25 per cent over five-years. After that expires, access will be negotiated on an annual basis.

The French government wants other EU members to support their push for Britain to be brought before an arbitration panel set up to thrash out post-Brexit disputes.

The country’s maritime ministry said yesterday that French ministers would unveil retaliatory measures ‘in the second half of October’. Annick Giradin, the French maritime minister, has raised the possibility of cutting electricity supplies to Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey.

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