The blockade has been lifted! French fishermen threaten to stop Christmas delivery to Britain… to give them a holiday break

  • A U-turn is made after cross-Channel trading was threatened by fishing barons
  • Threatens were made to British exports, causing further financial problems.
  • Oliver Lepetre (chairman of the northern France fisheries) confirmed that plans were scrapped
  • He claimed that they were on standby for the protest and would resume in January 

French fishermen last night ditched a threat to block Christmas deliveries to Britain – so they can have time off over the holidays.

This U-turn follows months of threats by fishing barons to end cross-Channel trading unless the UK handed over access permits.

The industry leaders said that many skippers have time off during the holiday period, so they abandoned their plan to punish Britain with a blockade of ports and the Channel Tunnel.

‘The protest won’t happen during the festive period. It’s on standby. We will look at it again at the start of January,’ said Olivier Lepretre, chairman of northern France fisheries committee.

‘Some of the fishermen wanted to act on the 23rd and the others wanted to protest on the 4th after the holidays. It divided people straight away.’

French fishermen last night ditched a threat to block Christmas deliveries to Britain – so they can have time off over the holidays. Pictured, French fishermen block trucks at the Eurotunnel near Calais in November

French fishermen last night ditched a threat to block Christmas deliveries to Britain – so they can have time off over the holidays. French fishermen block trucks at Eurotunnel, Calais.

The threat had been focused on targeting British imports and exports, providing a further blow to the UK’s Covid-hit economy.

Mr Lepretre stated that there was a split of 50-50 between the members of industry organizations representing the interests of French fishermen.

‘Not all boats have the same level of fishing activity. Up to the end of each year, the gillnetters can be very busy. In January it decreases. The opposite happens for the trawlers. They stop for a bit for now and then start up again in January.’

French fishermen held a protest against Brexit for two hours on November 26. The tunnel was closed to freight and three ports were blocked, as well as road access.

The boat of Mr Lepretre is among those who have not been granted a permit. Last week, he said that he had asked President Emmanuel Macron for extra checks to be applied to UK ships.

‘These checks do not have to be the hardest possible, but we do want there to be pressure on the British,’ he said.

The President also stated that the checks would take effect January 1, and may include tighter customs procedures, and more stringent sanitary inspections in French port facilities.

France has vowed Friday that it will sue Britain for refusing to surrender the licenses contested to them after failing to convince Britain. The special arbitration panel was established by the Brexit trade agreements with Brussels.

Banners installed by French fishermen on the fences of the Eurotunnel Freight Terminal near Calais during a day of protest in November

French fishermen placed banners near Calais on the Eurotunnel Freight Terminal fences during the day of protest. 

Paris asserts Britain has deliberately withheld 73 permits from its skippers. These skipper enjoyed unlimited access to UK waters during their time as a member. Officials from France also admitted that they received 93% of more than 1000 permits they applied for.

While the European Commission should respond by this week’s end, Downing Street sources believe that they will win.

If they convince an arbitration panel that they have failed to honour the agreement, either Britain or the EU may ask for punitive actions to be taken against the EU.

France’s win could result in heavy tariffs on British exports of fish to the EU or bans for UK trawlers from fishing within EU waters. The Eurocrats consult all 26 EU nations before making a decision on whether they will proceed with the legal proceedings.