Boris Johnson seeks to calm relations with France following continuing fishing dispute | Politics News
The Prime Minister has sought to calm relations between France and the UK, telling reporters on their way to the G20 in Rome that France is one of “the best, oldest and closest friends and allies of the UK “.
A continuous line on post-Brexit fishing licenses has worsened in recent days, while there was anger in Paris last month on a security partnership between the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia which saw the latter withdraw from an important contract with France for submarines.
Asked what he would say to President Emmanuel Macron when the couple meet in Rome this weekend, Mr. Johnson responded: “[The] the bonds that unite us, that unite us, are much stronger than the turbulence that currently exists in the relationship.
“This is what I will tell Emmanuel, who has been a friend for many years.
“And what I will also say is that there may be people on either side of the Channel who think they have an interest in promoting discord between the UK and France and creating the impression of disharmony. I don’t think Emmanuel shares that perspective. “
On the issue of retaliation, the prime minister said he was “puzzled as to what was going on, and we fear there is a violation of the trade and cooperation agreement” and “we will stand by ready to take appropriate action “.
When asked if the UK would back down on fishing licenses, the Prime Minister said “we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that UK interests are protected”.
Mr Johnson said he would be “surprised” if the French increased trade across the Channel.
“I haven’t heard this from our French friends, I would be surprised if they took this approach.”
The Prime Minister told reporters that British fishermen should be confident in their legal activities wherever they are.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Macron said Britain’s credibility was at stake in the dispute.
“Make no mistake, it is not only for Europeans but for all their partners,” said the French president of fishing rights.
“Because when you spend years negotiating a treaty and a few months later you do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects that suit you the least, that is not a great sign of your credibility.”
The comments come after Brexit Minister Lord Frost threatened with reprisals in the escalation line with “practical answers”.
Lord Frost said he made it clear to EU Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic that if France followed through on its “unwarranted” threats to disrupt fisheries and carriers next week, the UK would respond “by consequence “, both physically and legally.
The two were in talks in London over the Northern Ireland Protocol, but the feud over licenses for French boats to fish in British waters dominated.
Asked about the protocol and whether it would trigger Article 16, a decision to suspend cooperation on Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister said: “I think the answers to the problems of east-west movement of goods in our country, from Great Britain to north Ireland, should be very straightforward.
“I think we need to fix it. I’m not convinced the solutions we’re seeing fix it.
“We will have to take the necessary steps to protect the territorial integrity of the UK and the UK internal market.”
The fishing dispute escalated on Thursday when France seized a British scallop trawler and today charged its captain.
The skipper told Sky News on Friday evening that the ship would not be leaving just yet.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” he said, leaving the scene with a lawyer. It is not known why he had to leave the trawler.
The row erupted after the UK refused to grant licenses to 55 French fishing vessels to fish in UK waters because they did not meet the requirements, the UK said.
But the French claim the British were wrong and threatened to make it harder for British fishermen and truck drivers in France to arrest the Cornelis Gert Jan.
There are two other British crew members on the Cornelis, and they have all been told to stay on the boat for their own safety as tensions persist.
If the UK does not grant licenses for 55 French ships, France said from next Tuesday that it would block its ports, carry out security checks on British ships, tighten checks on lorries in to and from the United Kingdom, would strengthen customs and hygiene controls and increase tariffs.
There has also been a threat of shutdown of electricity to the Channel Islands, which are British dependencies but are close to the French coast.
A UK government spokesperson said Lord Frost had “made it clear” to Mr Sefcovic that if these threats were carried out, the EU would violate the UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ACT) and the bloc, which came into full force. May, the 1st.
He added: “The government is therefore considering the possibility, in these circumstances, of initiating dispute settlement proceedings under the TCA, and other practical responses, including the implementation of rigorous and rigorous enforcement processes. controls over EU fishing activity in UK territorial waters, under the terms of the ATT. “
Earlier, Environment Secretary George Eustice told Sky News that the UK has issued post-Brexit licenses to 1,700 vessels, including 750 French fishing vessels, which represents 98% of the applicants.
He said the remaining 55 vessels, although the UK had tried to help them with the data, could not prove that they had ever fished in Jersey waters and therefore could not be licensed under of the trade and cooperation agreement with the EU.
Mr Eustice also told Sky News: “If they [the French] put those measures in place, well, two can play this game, and obviously we reserve the ability to respond proportionately. “