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French fisherman waving red flares BLOCK British cargo vessel from docking in Brittany


French fisherman waving red flares have today reignited the UK-France fishing row by blockading a British boat outside a Brittany port.

In a prelude to more dramatic action expected later today, French fishing boats this morning encircled the British flag-bearing Normandy Trader outside Saint-Malo.   

The fisherman say the blockade is a protest at what they claim are moves by authorities in London and Jersey to withhold licences to fish in British waters under a post-Brexit deal.

And it could escalate even further later today, when French fisherman plan to blockade Calais and the Channel Tunnel – the two biggest transport hubs between the UK and France.  

This morning’s Saint-Malo protest and the larger action further east along France’s coast risks reigniting a dispute between Downing Street and the Elysée over a mutual licensing system for fishing vessels.

It also comes amid another row between the UK and France, this time over cross-Channel migration.

France today called off talks with Downing Street, due to be held after 27 people died while crossing the Channel in a migrant boat earlier this week.

French fisherman waving red flares have today reignited the UK-France fishing row by blockading a British boat outside a Brittany port 

The fisherman say the blockade is a protest at what they claim are moves by authorities in London and Jersey to withhold licences to fish in British waters under a post-Brexit deal

The fisherman say the blockade is a protest at what they claim are moves by authorities in London and Jersey to withhold licences to fish in British waters under a post-Brexit deal

In a prelude to more dramatic action expected later today, French fishing boats this morning encircled a British boat outside Saint-Malo

In a prelude to more dramatic action expected later today, French fishing boats this morning encircled a British boat outside Saint-Malo

French fishermen block the 'Normandy Trader' boat at the entrance of the port of Saint-Malo as they started a day of protests to mark their anger over the issue of post-Brexit fishing licenses

French fishermen block the ‘Normandy Trader’ boat at the entrance of the port of Saint-Malo as they started a day of protests to mark their anger over the issue of post-Brexit fishing licenses

Paris says London and the Channel Island of Jersey, a British crown dependency, are not honouring the agreement and dozens of licenses to operate inside their coastal waters are owed to French fishermen. But Downing Street insists it is respecting the post-Brexit arrangements

Paris says London and the Channel Island of Jersey, a British crown dependency, are not honouring the agreement and dozens of licenses to operate inside their coastal waters are owed to French fishermen. But Downing Street insists it is respecting the post-Brexit arrangements

This morning's Saint-Malo protest and the larger action further east along France's coast risks reigniting a dispute between Downing Street and the Elysée over a mutual licensing system for fishing vessels

This morning’s Saint-Malo protest and the larger action further east along France’s coast risks reigniting a dispute between Downing Street and the Elysée over a mutual licensing system for fishing vessels

France CANCELS meeting with Priti Patel in wake of deaths of 27 migrants because of ‘unacceptable’ letter from Boris Johnson 

France today called off talks with Britain over the deaths of 27 asylum seekers in a dinghy as Paris threw its toys out of the pram after Boris Johnson wrote to Emmanuel Macron with a five-point plan to prevent another tragedy in the Channel.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has cancelled a Sunday meeting with his UK counterpart Priti Patel following criticism by Mr Johnson on its handling of the crisis and the lax patrolling of beaches after gendarmes were seen doing nothing as migrants launched their boats.

The move – branded ‘le grand snub’ – has led to damning criticism in the UK with Macron and his ministers accused of ‘forgetting 27 people died two days ago’.

A spokesman for Mr Darmanin, who yesterday accused Britain of ‘bad immigration management’ and enticing migrants with benefits and slack labour rules, said: ‘We consider Boris Johnson’s public letter unacceptable and in opposition with discussions between counterparts. As a consequence, Priti Patel is not invited anymore to the meeting on Sunday.’ The summit with other European interior ministers will go ahead without the Home Secretary, whose aides had already travelled to Paris by Eurostar last night.

The decision sparked fury from British MPs. Tory backbencher Jacob Young tweeted: ‘Ridiculous behaviour from the French government seeming to forget that two days ago 27 people died crossing the Channel. Stop the boats – as simple as that’.

This letter led to Paris pulling the plug on talks amid poor post-Brexit relations between the two countries and the difficulties they may face working together to curb the flow of migrants after 27 people drowned trying to reach British shores on Wednesday.

Seventeen men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three teenagers died on when their dinghy deflated in the Channel, one of many such risky journeys attempted in small, flimsy and overloaded boats laid on by people traffickers charging £3,000 for a one way ticket to Kent.

The deaths deepened animosity between Britain and France, already at odds over post-Brexit trade rules and fishing rights. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said France was at fault and Mr Darmanin accused Britain of ‘bad immigration management’.

 

The UK and France have agreed to set up a licensing system for granting fishing vessels access to each other’s waters in the wake of Brexit.

Paris says London and the Channel Island of Jersey, a British crown dependency, are not honouring the agreement and dozens of licenses to operate inside their coastal waters are owed to French fishermen.

But Downing Street insists it is respecting the post-Brexit arrangements.

Last month, in a major escalation of the row, French officials seized a British scallop dredger off its northern coast for allegedly operating without a legitimate permit.

They later released the vessel amid uproar from British fisherman and authorities. Both countries have also this year sent patrol vessels to waters off Jersey.

President Emmanuel Macron has accused Britain of pushing his country’s patience and said the government would not yield in the dispute. 

Fishing rights dogged Brexit talks for years, not because of its economic importance but because of its political significance for both Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  

Today French fisherman are expected to block ferries and UK-bound goods heading to the Channel Tunnel today in a further escalation in the row over post-Brexit fishing licenses.

Describing the action as a ‘warning shot’, French national fisheries committee chairman Gerard Romiti said ferry traffic would be blocked at Saint-Malo, Ouistreham and Calais ports as well as freight traffic into the Channel Tunnel.

The blockage will last for several hours, he said. In response, Britain’s government said Thursday it was ‘disappointed’ by the threat. 

‘We don’t want handouts, we just want our licenses back. The UK must abide by the post-Brexit deal. Too many fishermen are still in the dark,’ said Romiti.

‘We have been waiting with bated breath for 11 months. The patience of professionals has limits. We hope this warning shot will be heard,’ he said, refusing to rule out further actions in the future.

Responding to the threat, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told reporters: ‘We are disappointed by threats of protest activity.

‘It will be a matter for the French to ensure that there are no illegal actions and that trade is not affected,’ he said. ‘We continue to monitor the situation closely.’

The threat comes after the the European Union set a December 10 deadline for the UK to resolve the worsening post-Brexit row with France over fishing licences.  

The EU’s fishing chief, Virginijus Sinkevicius, made the demand during a meeting with Environment Secretary George Eustice on Wednesday. 

France had threatened to ban British boats from unloading their catches at French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections.

President Emmanuel Macron then said France would hold off imposing the measures to give dialogue a chance, but French officials have insisted that all options remain on the table.

Meanwhile, Macron was left humiliated after Belgium snubbed his overtures to back Paris in the dispute with Britain.

Fishing rights dogged Brexit talks for years, not because of its economic importance but because of its political significance for both Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Fishing rights dogged Brexit talks for years, not because of its economic importance but because of its political significance for both Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

France had threatened to ban British boats from unloading their catches at French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections

France had threatened to ban British boats from unloading their catches at French ports and to subject all British imports to inspections

President Emmanuel Macron has accused Britain of pushing his country's patience and said the government would not yield in the dispute

President Emmanuel Macron has accused Britain of pushing his country’s patience and said the government would not yield in the dispute

The move is a protest at what French fisherman say are moves by authorities in London and Jersey to withhold licences to fish in British waters under a post-Brexit deal

The move is a protest at what French fisherman say are moves by authorities in London and Jersey to withhold licences to fish in British waters under a post-Brexit deal

French fishermen to block ferries and UK-bound goods heading to the Channel Tunnel 

French fisherman will block ferries and UK-bound goods heading to the Channel Tunnel today n a further escalation in the row over post-Brexit fishing licenses.

Describing the action as a ‘warning shot’, French national fisheries committee chairman Gerard Romiti said ferry traffic would be blocked at Saint-Malo, Ouistreham and Calais ports as well as freight traffic into the Channel Tunnel.

The blockage will last for several hours, he said.

In response, Britain’s government said Thursday it was ‘disappointed’ by the threat.

Mr Macron dispatched ministers to Brussels this week as part of his efforts to build support for his stance and for punishing the UK over the row.

But France’s Prime Minister Jean Castex and Europe minister Clement Beaune were rebuffed by their Belgian counterparts.

The issue has contributed to growing post-Brexit strains between London and Paris, whose relationship will now also be tested by their response to Wednesday’s migrant disaster in the Channel that cost 27 lives.

Tensions over the fisheries dispute even spiralled into a brief naval standoff in May, when dozens of French trawlers massed in front of Jersey’s Saint Helier harbour. 

The ongoing row centres around the issuing of fishing licences to EU trawlers to work in British waters. 

The terms of the Brexit deal dictate that boats must be able to demonstrate, using GPS data, that they worked in the waters before the UK’s split from Brussels. 

France has accused the UK of failing to grant licences to all eligible vessels but Britain has said some boats have been unable to prove their claims with data and as such have had their applications rejected. 

Talks on the issue remain ongoing between the UK, France and the European Commission but French fishermen are ‘exasperated’ by the ‘endless months of waiting’ and have threatened to take disruptive action. 

UK ministers have demanded assurances from Paris that trade will not be affected after French fishing chiefs signalled they could block Calais and other ports to stop exports to the UK. 

The European Union has set a December 10 deadline for the UK to resolve the worsening post-Brexit row with France over fishing licences. French trawlers are pictured in the port of Granville, Normandy on November 4

The European Union has set a December 10 deadline for the UK to resolve the worsening post-Brexit row with France over fishing licences. French trawlers are pictured in the port of Granville, Normandy on November 4

The EU's fishing chief, Virginijus Sinkevicius, made the demand during a meeting with Environment Secretary George Eustice yesterday

Pictured: Gerard Romiti, President of the National Committee of Maritime fisheries, pictured in 2018. Gerard Romiti said Thursday ferry traffic would be blocked at Saint-Malo, Ouistreham and Calais ports as well as freight traffic into the Channel Tunnel

The EU’s fishing chief, Virginijus Sinkevicius, made the demand during a meeting with Environment Secretary George Eustice yesterday

France has been putting pressure on the European Commission to be ‘more active’ in helping to resolve the standoff and to secure more licences from the UK. 

French Fisheries Minister Annick Girardin had asked the Commission to set a deadline and Mr Sinkevicius, the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner, yesterday obliged.  

However, French efforts to bolster support for its position suffered a set back after Belgium snubbed its plea for backing. 

Senior sources said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and foreign minister Sophie Wilmes dismissed Paris’s call to trigger sanctions against the UK.

They said the French were left under no illusions that the row over access to waters near Britain and the Channel Islands was a ‘bilateral matter’ for the negotiating table. 

French President Emmanuel Macron was left humiliated after Belgium snubbed his overtures to back Paris in the dispute with Britain

French President Emmanuel Macron was left humiliated after Belgium snubbed his overtures to back Paris in the dispute with Britain

‘There is little appetite for a trade war over this,’ the source said. ‘This is not our fight. We still want to resolve the outstanding issues through dialogue with the UK.’

The snub by Belgium is the latest embarrassment for Mr Macron ahead of April’s presidential election.

One senior EU diplomat said: ‘It is quite clear that France is trying to use this dispute for domestic political purposes.’

Another EU source, who works closely on Brexit issues, said most governments want to avoid being dragged into the spat.



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