Boris Johnson pledges to protect British fisherman from French threats

Brexit: Jersey minister demands French fishermen show logbooks

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Boris Johnson said he was “puzzled” by the sabre-rattling from Paris but said the UK will retaliate if necessary. Britain will impose rigorous checks on all EU vessels in British waters unless France backs down. Yesterday French ambassador Catherine Colonna was given a 20-minute carpeting in the Foreign Office.

France has threatened to block UK boats from entering its ports and hit exporters with extra red tape unless its fishermen are given more permits to enter British waters.

It was told “two can play that game” and the UK will act if it goes ahead with its plan on Tuesday.

Mr Johnson is likely to raise the issue when he meets French president Emmanuel Macron for informal talks tomorrow morning in Rome, where world leaders are attending the G20 summit.

As he landed in the Italian city last night, the PM said: “France is one of our best, oldest, closest allies.

“The ties that unite us and bind us are far stronger than the turbulence that currently exists in the relationship. That is what I would say to Emmanuel, who is a friend I have known for many years.

“What I would also say is there may be people on either side of the Channel who think they have an interest in somehow promoting disharmony between the UK and France.

“I don’t think Emmanuel shares that perspective at all.”

Mr Johnson did not rule out a trade war if France acted on its threats. “We will do whatever is necessary to ensure UK interests,” he said. “I would be surprised if they adopted that approach.”

He added: “British fishermen should continue fishing in accordance with the agreement we reached under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”

Brexit minister Lord Frost raised the row during talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in London yesterday.

He said the “unjustified measures” threatened by France would “disrupt UK fisheries, wider trade and energy supplies, and block further cooperation between the UK and the EU”.

The peer said the EU would be in breach of the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

Britain will consider legal options and implement “rigorous enforcement processes and checks” on EU fishing unless the row is resolved.

Environment Secretary George Eustice attacked France for its “completely inflammatory” approach.

He warned the French government that if it does go ahead and block British trawlers then “two can play at that game”.

Mr Eustice suggested Mr Macron could be whipping up a row as he faces a difficult election in April, during which votes in coastal communities will be hard-fought.

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