Liz Truss demanded that Emmanuel Macron’stops threatening Britain’ over the bitter rights row in fishing.
The deadline for small boats to be licensed for UK waters was rejected by the Foreign Secretary.
Instead, she argued that Paris is under pressure because the government is ready and able to take action for breaches of the post Brexit trade deal.
Ms Truss also ran the risk of inflaming the conflict as Mr Macron attends COP26 in Glasgow. This suggests that he is merely attacking Britain in the hope that it will help his re-election prospects.
French officials warned that they will block UK fishing boats from certain ports, and tighten customs inspections on lorries entering Britain with British goods starting tomorrow. This is unless more licences for their small boats to fish the British.
Other threats include a slowdown at customs and increased tariffs for energy bills in Jersey. However, boats are being granted permits at an increasing rate. The UK stressed that only those who can show a history fishing in waters before Brexit will continue to be allowed to have their permits.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (pictured today at COP) has rejected the deadline set tomorrow by the French president for smaller boats to be granted licenses in the UK.
Emmanuel Macron (pictured left at G20) insists that Boris Johnson (pictured right today at the COP summit) must resign in the dispute over fishing rights.
French authorities took possession of the Cornelis Get Jan, a British fishing boat, last week at Le Havre’s port.
Ms Truss answered Sky News’ questions about whether France and Britain had reached an agreement. She said that the French had made unreasonable threats to our fishing industry, and they needed to withdraw those threats. Otherwise, we will use the mechanisms in our trade agreement with EU to take action.
She said that the action would involve using the post-Brexit dispute settlement mechanism to seek compensatory measures’.
She said, “That’s what we will do if they don’t backdown,”
“Stop threatening UK fishing vessels and Channel ports, and accept that we are fully within our rights to allocate fishing licenses in accordance with the trade agreement.”
She stated that she would ‘absolutely” take legal action in the following days if France doesn’t back down on threats.
She said, “We are not going to just surrender to these threats.”
Ms Truss suggested that Mr Macron could be making ‘unreasonable threats’ because of the approaching election.
She stated, “You might say that there’s an election in France,”
After a day of extraordinary briefing, Mr Macron and Boris Johnson attended G20 Summit in Rome, the French premier insisted that Britain is the winner and that reprisals will be carried out.
Paris claimed in an initial briefing that Mr Johnson and Mr Macron had reached an agreement on de-escalation after 30 minutes of negotiations at the margins.
As the pair attempted to come to an understanding one on one, there were no officials or cameras.
Johnson rejected this version. He said that he considered Macron a friend, but that they had a frank and wide-ranging discussion. He stated, “On fish I have to tell ya the position remains unchanged.”
Johnson claimed that he was “puzzled” by a letter sent from Jean Castex, French prime minister, to Ursula von der Leyen as president of the European Commission. In which Mr Castex stated that the UK would do more harm if it left the EU than if it stayed in.
Johnson stated at a G20 press conference that he was unable to speak for fish. For the record, let me just say this. I was puzzled when I read a letter written by the French Prime Minister asking for Britain to be punished for leaving EU.
“I just want to say to everyone that I don’t believe that this is compatible either with both the spirit or letter of the Withdrawal Agreement and the Trade and Cooperation agreement. That’s probably all that I’ll say about it.”
But Mr Macron said that Britain is the one who has to move.
The PM’s spokesperson stated earlier that France would have to decide whether to back down from the threats.
“We stand ready to respond should they proceed to break the Brexit agreement,” the spokesperson said.
After the talks, a French aide stated to Reuters: ‘The goal for both President and Prime Minister was to work towards deescalation.
According to French sources, the two sides reached an agreement on ‘operational steps’ to end the row in the coming days.