France threatens to drag EU into trade war with Britain as Jersey braces for blockade after rejecting fishing licenses
FRANCE has threatened to drag the EU into a trade war with Britain in a rage over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Paris complained its trawler men are being held "hostage" after Jersey refused to grant licences to 75 vessels.
The tiny Channel Island is now bracing itself for a fresh blockade from furious French skippers.
Navy gunboats have been put on high alert in case they need to be sent back in to repel another armada.
Emmanuel Macron's spokesman slammed the "totally unacceptable" decision and said Paris will "push" Brussels to take action.
But eurocrats baulked at the threat of a tit-for-tat tariff war and pledged to reopen talks with Downing St on a deal.
Jersey rejected a third of applications from French boats and ordered them to leave its waters within 30 days.
Vessels that couldn't demonstrate a history of fishing off the island before Brexit were turned down.
It did approve 64 full licenses and 31 temporary ones, on top of 47 trawlers already granted access.
External affairs minister Ian Gorst said the Channel Island is now braced for reprisals from spurned captains.
He said: "We acknowledge that feelings are running high in the fish community in the north of France.
"I hope there aren’t any blockades but we really do need to work together to alleviate concerns and make progress because that does remain a possibility."
It comes after No 10 granted just 12 licenses out of 47 demanded for French boats to fish near the UK mainland.
Paris is pushing for tariffs on some British goods and suspension of cooperation on energy in response.
I expect the worst in the days or weeks to come
Fisheries minister Annick Girardin fumed: "French fishing should not be taken hostage by the British for political ends.
"This is another refusal to implement the conditions of the Brexit deal.
“We ask the EU Commission to put in place the retaliatory measures that are in the agreement."
Olivier Lepretre, boss of the powerful Hauts-de-France fisheries committee, warned temperatures are rising.
He said: "There is a strong tension on the docks, and I expect the worst in the days or weeks to come.
"There comes a time when pressure must be put on the British side which is not respecting its commitments."
Loïg Chesnais-Girard, president of the Brittany region, said Jersey fishermen could be denied access to its ports in revenge.
He raged: "It is a feeling of anger that drives me. This situation is unacceptable.
"Together fishermen, authorities, Europe, must come together to make the UK see reason again."
Boulogne MP Jean-Pierre Pont said fishermen could blockade the Channel Tunnel and port of Calais to stop British goods getting through.
Brussels' response was lukewarm with many other countries reluctant to get dragged into a trade war with the UK over a French dispute.
The Commission expressed "regret" the row hasn't been resolved but said it will "continue to engage" with No 10 on a solution.
Source: Read Full Article