No10 vows to retaliate against France as Brexit fishing row heightens over sanctions

27 October 2021, 22:10

France warned it will block British vessels from some ports if the post-Brexit dispute was not resolved.
France warned it will block British vessels from some ports if the post-Brexit dispute was not resolved. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Number 10 has vowed to retaliate against France if it goes ahead with "disappointing and disproportionate" fishing sanctions against the UK.

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It comes after the French Government warned it would block British vessels from some ports next week and tighten checks on vessels travelling between France and the UK, if the post-Brexit dispute was not resolved by Tuesday.

Paris even went as far as suggesting it could restrict energy supplies to the Channel Islands if no deal was reached, as relations further soured.

France was initially angered by a decision from the UK and Jersey last month to reject dozens of licences for French boats to fish in their waters, arguing it breached the Brexit deal.

However, Number 10 said the threats did not seem to be compatible with "international law" and vowed an "appropriate and calibrated response" if Paris does not back down.

Read more: France and 10 other EU nations join forces against UK amid Brexit fishing feud

Read more: Brexit minister hits back at 'unreasonable' France after threat to cut energy supply

'Yes the bulk of the fishing industry voted for Brexit but it's the terms we have to work under now'

Brexit minister Lord Frost said the Government was "seeking urgent clarification" on France's plans.

"It is very disappointing that France has felt it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing industry and seemingly traders more broadly," he said.

"As we have had no formal communication from the French Government on this matter we will be seeking urgent clarification of their plans.

"We will consider what further action is necessary in that light."

Read more: French fishermen threaten to block exports to UK in run-up to Christmas

A UK Government spokeswoman added: "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 and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response."

She said that Britain will express its concerns both to the EU and the French Government, and argued that the UK has granted 98 per cent of licence applications from European vessels.

However, the dispute continues over 31 vessels which the UK did not approve licences for, arguing that they did not have supporting evidence for their applications.

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