Macron ally urges France to ‘stop controls of migrants’ heading to UK after No10’s threat

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In a swipe at Britain’s move to use gunboats to patrol the Channel, Jean-Pierre Pont insisted the Navy should be made to pick up the slack instead. The MP, who represents the northern seaside town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, said: “France must immediately stop controls of migrants on their way to Great Britain. Let the British manage. At least their warships will be useful for something, rather than shooting at our fishermen.”

Mr Pont is a senior member of President Macron’s En Marche movement.

Downing Street’s threat to send gunboats in to repel foreign vessels has infuriated fishing communities in northern France.

In the event of a no deal Brexit, European trawlermen would be largely locked out of Britain’s coastal waters.

French fishermen have threatened to blockade Dover and Calais if there is a no deal Brexit.

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One union baron said they could spark “warlike” scenes by disrupting the flow of ferries carrying vital goods in response to being shut out of Britain’s fishing grounds.

Dimitri Rogoff, president of Normandy’s regional fisheries committee, claimed the move would see Dutch, Belgian and German ships flocking into French waters.

He said: “If we are deprived of our fishing grounds, we will not watch the British supply the French market.

“There will therefore be blockages to ferries, since this mainly happens by ferries. And on that, we are quite clear and determined.”

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has voiced concern at the state of the current wrangling over post-Brexit fishing rights.

But he has claimed if the UK and EU can overcome their differences an agreement could be reached as early as this week.

The Frenchman told MEPs this week that Britain wants to “renationalise” its fishing industry by imposing tough new rules for ownership of vessels.

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He said this would hit Dutch and Spanish firms that own fishing boats – known as flagships – in the UK the hardest.

Mr Barnier described it as one of the key sticking points to finding a deal on fisheries.

According to a source familiar with the meeting, he said: “There are other conditions that they wanted to impose that are very difficult for those two countries.”

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Britain is said to be seeking ownership rules for boats that mean the majority stakeholder must be domestic.

Wrangling over the post-Brexit trade deal could rumble on into the weekend because of the dispute over fishing rights.

And with talks possibly not ending until December 31, MEPs have drawn up plans to potentially rubber-stamp the UK-EU deal in the New Year.

They will allow the pact to be “provisionally applied” and take a vote at a later date in order to avoid a short period of no deal disruptions.

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