Diplomacy was abruptly scuttled when the French decided to arrest British seamen in the escalating war over fishing rights.

In any dispute, it is a big step to deny freedom to anyone. But for a country whose motto says “liberty equality, fraternity”, it can be rightly regarded as outrageous.

Lawyers are still analysing the exact circumstances surrounding Wednesday’s seizure by the scallop trawler Cornelis Gérard Jan in Le Havre. However, there is no doubt that sabre rattling was the main motivation.

France is furious that certain of its boats are being denied fishing rights in UK water following the Brexit settlement. They have begun ferocious retaliatory actions.

While claiming they were dealing with the matter courteously through the European Commission – as would be appropriate for an EU founding-father nation – the French instead simply sent in their security services.

Annick Girardin in Paris, the fiery maritime minister, stated that “It’snt war, it’s a battle,”

Mr Macron, of course, despises Brexit and he is clearly keen to force a confrontation with Britain over it at every opportunity, writes NABILA RAMDANI

As you can see, Mr Macron hates Brexit and is keen to have a confrontation with Britain at every opportunity. NABILA RAMDANI

She added that “We are going to ask European Commission to tell United Kingdom that it has not respected its agreement and therefore retaliatory steps can be taken.”

Hard-Left Miss Girardin stated that the only option was to threaten Cornelis Gertjan’s skipper with criminal charges.

They include preventing all British fishing boats from offloading their catches to France, as well as imposing red-tape barriers on any other British products.

Threatening a nation’s power supply is the kind of behavior we have come to expect from rogue countries like Russia, and not an ally or neighbor.

But it was with undisguised glee Miss Girardin threatened to do this in May.

There was a time when the term gunboat diplomacy – use of naval power ultimatums to resolve disputes – earned Britain the title Perfidious Albion. It was a pejorative title that implied treachery, double-dealing, and was used as a derogatory term. Now, however, it may be more appropriate to speak of Perfidious France as ministers such as Miss Girardin – who has confessed to having a ‘pirate’s soul’ – up the ante without warning.

Clement Beaune (France’s anti-Brexit Europe minister) is being equally bellicose. He wants a zero tolerance’ policy to be applied towards the British while the French push for increased fishing licenses. The reasons for the dispute are technical. The UK, Channel Islands and other countries recognize the historical rights of boats that have fished in their waters since the beginning.

While new technology was developed to verify such claims after the UK left Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), not all French vessels want to go to the expense and trouble of complying.

British negotiators insist they install the technology. Mr Beaune said, seemingly without irony, that ‘we cannot be in a culture of trust with someone who doesn’t abide by the rules. Mr. Beaune is very close to President Emmanuel Macron. He used to speak through his lieutenants.

The French are furious that some of their boats are currently being denied fishing rights in UK waters following the Brexit settlement, and so have started ferocious retaliatory action, writes NABILA RAMDANI

 The French are furious that some of their boats are currently being denied fishing rights in UK waters following the Brexit settlement, and so have started ferocious retaliatory action, writes NABILA RAMDANI

Of course, Mr Macron hates Brexit and is keen to confront Britain over it at all costs.

For example, he weakened the Oxford Covid jab and threatened its rollout in Europe. He also made mischief over the highly sensitive Northern Ireland protocol.

There is still friction about the number and type of immigrants who have crossed the Atlantic from France to reach England via small boats.

Mr Macron is also still fuming after losing out to Britain and the US when Australia cancelled a £60billion contract to buy French submarines.

But, his main concern is the election campaign. He knows that he must win a second term and that his main opponents are Marine Le Pen (of the far-Right National Rally) and Eric Zemmour (an equally xenophobic TV pundit).

Ultra-nationalist voters expect politicians to stand up for their interests. Mr Macron wants to play to that gallery by outperforming Zemmour and Le Pen.

The obvious way to do this for Napoleon is to wage seaborne battles against the British.

But there will be a reckoning. If, for the sake of another five years of power, he sacrifices any pretence of being a diplomatically-minded statesman, then he will be in serious trouble.

Macron must abandon his pugilism and start negotiating civilized and constructively with Britain. He should also respect the post-Brexit order.