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THE FRENCH HAVE NEARLY DECLARED WAR OVER SOME ACCESS TO FISH !
‘We will go back, and next time it will be war’: Warning of French fishermen as they sail away from Jersey standoff
In a sign of mounting political tensions, France’s European affairs minister warned that his government would ‘not be intimidated’ by the UK
Harry Yorke, WHITEHALL EDITOR ;James Crisp, EUROPE EDITOR ;Henry SamuelandDanielle Sheridan, POLITICAL AND DEFENCE CORRESPONDENT6 May 2021 • 3:16pm
Boris Johnson has said that two Royal Navy vessels will remain stationed off Jersey until the French blockade is resolved, as Brussels rallied behind France in an escalating row over post-Brexit fishing rights.
The Prime Minister held a second call with the chief minister of Jersey on Thursday morning during which he restated the UK’s “unequivocal support” for the Channel island and confirmed the ships would remain in place as a precaution.
It came as France responded to the UK intervention by dispatching two of its own naval patrol boats to monitor the flotilla of 60 French fishing boats, which are currently camped around St Helier, Jersey’s main port.
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The French man in a beret, riding a bicycle and carrying onions was actually a fairly common sight all across Great Britain from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. These beret-wearing, onion-laden cyclists arrived in the UK every summer to peddle their wares. … The British soon took to calling them “Onion Johnnies”
One of the French boats deployed to the area belongs to the gendarme military police force, the other is a coast patrol vessel operated by the maritime ministry.
The French authorities confirmed that the vessels were being sent to “guarantee the safety” of people at sea and to accompany the boats as they remained stationed around the port.
In a statement, Downing Street said Mr Johnson had been provided with an update from senator John Le Fondre on the situation on the ground, with the pair agreeing to remain in touch as “the situation develops”. French fishermen gather in a net on their vessel near the port of St Helier CREDIT: Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP
Beer glasses have been collected at pubs in Santa Helier and the island Governor declared a state of emergency with a savage embargo of domestick snails and horsemeat.
“The French never learn….” He said
unfurling a banner to Agincourt on a city Square.
However, the presence of HMS Tamar and HMS Severn, two River-class offshore patrol vessels, failed to deter the several dozen French boats, which arrived early on Thursday morning to begin their blockade.
In a sign of mounting political tensions, France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune also warned that his government would “not be intimidated” by the UK’s show of force.
“Our wish is not to have tensions, but to have a quick and full application of the deal,” he told AFP. “That’s the case for Jersey and that’s the case for the licences we are waiting for in the Hauts-de-France (region).”
Brussels has also waded into the row, with a spokesman for the European Commission claiming that it had told the UK Government that Jersey’s actions appeared to fall foul of the Brexit trade deal signed by the UK and EU last year.
Meanwhile Germany appealed for calm
Fishermen taking part in the protest told The Telegraph they intended to remain put until they had held talks with the Jersey authorities. A delegation from the French flotilla have now entered St Helier to hold talks.
Their actions were dubbed “piratical” by Lord West, the former first sea lord, who told The Telegraph the incident showed the UK needed more naval vessels to police its waters after Brexit.
The scene off the coast of Jersey on Thursday morning was likened to an “invasion” by one Jersey fisherman, who told reporters: “There were probably about 60 boats. There were a few hand-held flares and smoke flares going off and apparently a few maybe bangers and stuff going off from the French.”
Jersey is accused of introducing unilateral restrictions on where and when French boats can fish and for how long, as well as what machinery they can use.
Forty-one boats out of 344 which applied have been granted licences – conditional on proving historical fishing activity in Jersey waters.
France has branded those terms “unacceptable”, while the European Commission said that any restrictions introduced had to be notified in advance and apply to all vessels in Jersey’s territorial waters and not just the EU vessels.
The decision last week also prompted France’s maritime minister, Annick Girardin, to threaten “retaliatory measures”, including cutting off electricity supply to Jersey from France, which supplies 95 per cent of its energy.
On Thursday, Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, a French MEP, claimed that France was still prepared to act on its threat to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply despite the row.
The provocation by France was on Wednesday branded “outrageous” and “completely disproportionate” by UK government officials, with The Telegraph also disclosing that ministers are now considering reviewing energy links to France.
However, a spokesman for the European Commission said: “Under the EU-UKTCA, any proposed management conditions have to be notified in advance to the other party, giving them sufficient time to assess and react to the proposed measures.
“Furthermore, any addition of new specific conditions to these fishing authorisations that limit EU fishing activities in UK waters must comply with the objectives and principles set out in the TCA, which are based on clear scientific rationale. Any such conditions must also be non-discriminatory between UK and EU vessels.
“The Commission has clearly indicated to the UK that the provisions of the EU-UKTCA have not been respected. Until the UK authorities provide further justifications on the new conditions, these new conditions should not apply. The Commission remains in close contact with France and the UK on the matter.”
Mr Gorst told the BBC that the UK’s decision to call in Navy vessels was justified, adding that it was important the Government stood up “firmly” to “disproportionate threats” from Paris.
“A minister in Paris threatened over technical issues on fishing licences to cut off Jersey’s electricity. We have to take such threats seriously and respond appropriately,” he added.
“And fishing vessels threatened to blockade the main harbour into the island.
“Again, we have to take that seriously and we’re extremely grateful to the Prime Minister for his full support and, as he said last night, those assets in Jersey waters are as a precautionary measure to monitor what’s happening in our waters and, as I’ve said, so far the protest has been peaceful, as we would expect.”
Meanwhile, Lord West urged France needed “to take a deep breath”, as he accused their behaviour of being more akin to “19th century than 21st century”.
“I think that is aggressive, it’s in our waters, I mean, it’s been put there clearly because of what’s going on in our waters. And the fact that there are two offshore patrol vessels from the Royal Navy, both of which, their job is to look after our territorial seas, and our exclusive economic zone, makes absolute sense bearing in mind, French fishing boats were saying that they were going to blockade a port.
“This is sort of piratical behaviour and so it’s extraordinary.”
After 10 hours at sea, the French fishing flotilla decided to return to the mainland.
But as they approached the Normandy coast, word got out that the talks had come to very little.
The French reacted angrily, saying that the Jersey government gave almost no ground bar a few extra days’ fishing. They vowed to return.
“We will go back, and next time it will be war,” said French crewman “Popeye”.
“It’ll be just like in the Port-en-Bessin,” he said, referring to the site of recent scallop wars with British fishermen.
And to add insult to injury, French navy patrol boats they thought were being dispatched to offer support ended up stopping a couple of French fishing boats to check papers.
“It’s unacceptable. They were supposed to be on our side!,” said Mr Andreani.
Read more: French power threat leaves Britain facing the nuclear optionBeyond Brexit BulletinOur essential guide to the decisions facing Britain – post Brexit. With James Crisp, Christopher Hope, Dia Chakravarty and more – every Tuesday and ThursdaySign upRelated Topics
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