Liz summons French Ambassador to UK to explain ‘threats made against the UK and Channel Islands’

Photo credit: Simon Dawson / No10 Downing Street.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has instructed Europe Minister Wendy Morton to summon the French Ambassador “to the UK for talks tomorrow to explain the disappointing and disproportionate threats made against the UK and Channel Islands.”

The move comes after French maritime police seized a British trawler off of Le Havre, Normandy in the early hours of the morning. The boat was then “handed over to the judicial authority” in France.

French maritime minister Annick Girardin said France is furious that Britain has refused to grant its fishermen the full number of licences to operate inside British waters that Paris says is warranted and said retaliatory measures could come into effect from November 2 if no progress is made in talks.

According to the French government those measures would include additional customs checks on goods entering the European continent through France’s border and prohibiting British fishing boats from unloading in several French ports.

Responding to the attack, a UK Government spokesman said:

“France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner.

“The measures being threatened do not appear to be compatible with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.”

France’s EU affairs minister, Clément Beaune added flames to the fire on Thursday saying:

“Now, we need to speak the language of force since that seems to be the only thing this British government understands.

“From November, it’s over. We’ll open dialogue if the British want dialogue – it’s up to them – but we’ll put in place retaliation measures because there is no reason we shouldn’t have access to their waters when they have access to our ports.”

In a statement, a Downing Street spokesman said:

“Lord Frost chaired a ministerial meeting earlier today to consider the UK response to the measure set out by France yesterday.

“The proposed French actions are unjustified and do not appear to be compatible on the EU’s part with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) or wider international law.

“We regret the confrontation language that has been consistently used by the French Government on this issue, which makes this situation no easier to resolve.

“We have raised our concerns strongly with both the French and the EU Commission. As a next step, the Foreign Secretary has instructed Minister Morton to summon the French Ambassador.

“We repeat that the Government has granted 98 percent of licence applications from EU vessels to fish in the UK’s waters and, as has consistently been made clear, will consider any further evidence on the remainder.”

Brexit Minister Lord Frost tweeted that it was “very disappointing” to see France’s threats.


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