Boris Johnson has been accused of ‘dragging out’ a post-Brexit fishing row with France to divert attention from ‘domestic problems’.
French president Emmanuel Macron told aides that the Prime Minister is trying to ‘entrap’ the EU ‘in a Franco-British problem’.
As further talks in Paris failed yesterday to resolve the matter, France threatened sanctions against Britain for allegedly withholding licenses for French-owned boats.
Mr Macron reportedly said: ‘I will not give an inch on fish. The UK must respect the spirit of the Brexit agreement… or sell their fish elsewhere.’
Boris Johnson has been accused of ‘dragging out’ a post-Brexit fishing row with France to divert attention from ‘domestic problems’
His comments were published in the highly-respected French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné.
The French leader will be re-elected in April. He is taking a tough position on Brexit Britain with eurosceptics Marine Le Pen (a far-Right polemist) and Eric Zemmour (a eurosceptic).
France has accused the UK of violating the Brexit agreement by arguing that British seafood products should be subject to punitive tariffs.
Following a meeting between the two sides yesterday, Mr Beaune, one of the French president’s closest aides, said that ‘large gaps’ remained and that possible punishment sanctions were still ‘possible’.
He claimed that the ‘pressure’ from Paris had ‘facilitated the resumption of talks’ with Britain.
‘As long as dialogue seems possible, we are giving it a chance,’ he said. ‘We need to accelerate progress.’
Downing Street believes that it has a solid legal case against any French measures to prevent a cross-Channel Trade War.
British officials believe there is not enough support in the EU to allow Paris to take this step.
‘We’re glad that the French want to keep talking and haven’t yet followed through on their unlawful threat,’ a British government source said.
Lord Frost will hold talks with Brussels’ Brexit enforcer, European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, later on today FRI on the fishing row and the Northern Ireland protocol.
French president Emmanuel Macron told aides that the Prime Minister is trying to ‘entrap’ the EU ‘in a Franco-British problem’
Mr Beaune warned Britain against using the dispute over trade between the British mainland and the province as ‘leverage’.
‘All Europeans are very clear. We will not make a compromise between the protocol, fishing, or any other aspect of the agreement. It doesn’t work like that.’
Despite both sides praising a positive atmosphere at the meeting, they couldn’t even agree on what was disagreeable.
Under the Brexit trade deal, French vessels are able to fish in the area between six and 12 miles from the UK’s shores until 2026 if they can prove they had previously been operating in those waters.
Mr Beaune claimed that the dispute is over 200 licenses still to be issued. British officials, however, claim they don’t see eye-to-eye with 86 permits.
As further talks in Paris failed to resolve the matter yesterday, France threatened sanctions against Britain for allegedly withholding licenses for French boats.
Britain is using commercially-available tracking data to assess whether French trawlers should be granted a permit.
Skippers from across the Channel claim that their vessels did not have such technology prior to Brexit, making it difficult to prove their historical links to those waters.
Further technical talks to broker a truce in the row are set to take place next week at the European Commission’s headquarters in Brussels.
The talks between Lord Frost, Mr Beaune took place on the same day that the British scallop trawler Cornelis-Gert January docked in Shoreham-by-Sea.
French authorities kept the vessel, which was registered in Scotland, captive in Le Havre (Normandy) for a week, despite the correct paperwork.
It was finally released Wednesday evening, after being wrongly accused.