Frost pulls trigger on Macron! UK sets out plan to tackle French fishing chaos in EU talks

Fishing: Expect 'retaliation' from licence blocks says French minister

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The minister warned the EU that the UK would not hesitate to take retaliate if Paris implemented reactionary measures in a strop over fishing licences. France has threatened to block British boats from some ports and tighten checks on those travelling between France and the UK if the Government does not issue more licences for European vessels to access UK waters.

It has given the UK until next Tuesday to meet their demands.

However, officials in London insist licences have been issued to all French boats who have provided the necessary paperwork to support an application.

They say the UK is granting access as laid out in the EU trade deal signed last December.

Both Britain and the EU first heard of Paris’s ultimatum through the media on Wednesday evening after the French government failed to formally notify their counterparts in London and Brussels of their threat in advance.

At a meeting with European Commission Vice President Marcos Sefcovic in London today, Lord Frost vowed to robust response to French aggression.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Lord Frost set out to the Vice President our concerns about the unjustified measures announced by France earlier this week to disrupt UK fisheries and wider trade, to threaten energy supplies, and to block further cooperation between the UK and the EU, for example on the Horizon research programme.

“Lord Frost made clear that, if these actions were implemented as planned on November 2, they would put the European Union in breach of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

“The Government is accordingly considering the possibility, in those circumstances, of launching dispute settlement proceedings under the TCA, and of other practical responses, including implementing rigorous enforcement processes and checks on EU fishing activity in UK territorial waters, within the terms of the TCA.”

The negotiations were meant to focus on issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, but the explosive rhetoric in the last 48 hours led to Lord Frost also confronting his counterpart on fishing.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has also summoned the French ambassador to the UK, Catherine Colonna, to be reprimanded this afternoon for the menacing comments coming from across the Channel.

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France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, said the threats were necessary in order to force the UK to take notice.

He told local TV news channel CNews: “We need to speak the language of force because, unfortunately, that seems to be the only thing this British Government understands.”

French maritime minister Annick Girardin also told French radio news programme RTL Matin: “It’s not war, it’s a fight.

“We have fishing rights, we must defend them and we will defend them.”

The European Commission has said it will look at the measures France is proposing to determine if they are compatible with the UK-EU trade agreement and international law.

Mr Sefcovic urged Lord Frost today to intensify talks with Brussels and Paris in order to resolve the fishing dispute.

This weekend Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Macron are due to meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Rome.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said the pair would discuss “a range of issues” but did not go into details.

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