Macron ‘steps back’ as Boris looks to bypass Calais with new trade routes


France’s threats over fishing licences appear to have backfired as the Dover-Calais route is now being reconsidered by the UK.

According to government sources, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to investigate the possibility of using the Port of Immingham in Grimsby and ports in Belgium as an alternative trade route following the recent threats from France to cut off energy supplies and increase checks for goods.

It is understood Mr Shapps will also look at the feasibility of channelling trade through Dutch and Scandinavian ports – something that according to French sources is making Paris “nervous.”

After talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Glasgow, French President Macron now appears to be backing down from introducing measures. However, Government sources say Britain will continue preparing alternative trade routes.

The PM has also asked Brexit Minister Lord Frost to travel to Paris on Thursday to conduct talks with EU minister Clement Beaune to find a permanent solution to the fisheries disagreement.

A source from the UK Government welcomed the de-escalation from the French government. The source said:

“We’re glad that France has stepped back.

“We’ve stuck to our position and were ready to respond if they had bought forward these measures, which would have put the EU in breach of the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

“Our position on fishing licenses remains unchanged.

“We are clear that our position has always been in line with the TCA, while we remain open to considering further evidence to support the remaining applications under the terms of the agreement.

“We look forward to hearing how France and the EU want to proceed on Thursday when we discuss a range of issues important to the U.K.-EU relationship, including the Northern Ireland protocol.

“We are in solutions mode and we want to resolve these issues consensually if we can.”

In a further de-escalation of relations, French officials released the Cornelis Gert Jan, the British fishing boat they seized last week.

Environment Secretary George Eustice welcomed the move saying:

“I understand that that vessel has now been released.

“It’s a decision by the French to step back from the threats they made.

“We welcome that.”

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