Brexit countdown: UK to hit back TODAY on France fishing license row

Fishing threats ‘going to cause a lot of harm’ says expert

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On Monday the French President climbed down over his threat to implement tough sanctions on the UK from Tuesday unless more fishing licences were issued for European vessels. After talks with the Prime Minister, Mr Marcon said he would hold off taking action until later this week.

He said his officials would present fresh proposals on how to deal with the current frictions in a bid to see tensions.

The UK will give its formal response to the suggestions, which have not been made public, today.

While the UK Government has spoken of its own desire to end the escalating row over fishing, last night Mr Johnson made clear he was not going to budge in the face of French aggression.

Asked at a press conference if the British position on issuing licences had changed, the Prime Minister said: “The answer is no.”

He indicated he had more important things to worry about than menacing rhetoric emerging from Paris.

Giving his comments at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, he added: “We are working very, very closely with our French friends and partners on the things that matter most to the people of the world, and that is tackling climate change and reducing CO2.”

He said that “by comparison with that hugely important issue” the row with France on fish was “vanishingly unimportant”.

The remarks give an insight of how the UK is likely to respond to France’s proposals on licences.

Under the terms of the EU trade deal, European boats which have historically fished in UK waters must be issued licences to continue to allow them to do so.

They must provide evidence of having fished in the waters for at least one day a year for the past four years.

The UK says it has issued licences to all those that have provided the correct paperwork, but France has accused Britain of failing to honour its commitments by rejecting some applications.

Officials in London say they have granted 98 percent of licences.

But the dispute centres on access for small boats of under 12 metres wishing to fish in the UK six-to-12 nautical mile zone.

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The government in Paris was angry that the UK originally granted only 12 licences out of 47 applications for smaller vessels, a figure that has now risen to 18.

Mr Macron has warned if a solution for issuing more licences is not found by the end of tomorrow he will impose strict measures on the UK.

They include blocking British boats from landing their catches in French ports and tightening customs checks which risk causing supply problems for Britons in the run-up to Christmas.

While Mr Johnson has rejected claims the UK will compromise its approach to issuing licences to appease France, a minister for the Paris government admitted Britain had been “constructive” in discussions.

French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari told a French radio station: “I spoke to my counterpart yesterday evening.

“The spirit is a constructive one on this topic.”

Tomorrow Lord Frost will head to France to meet with Mr Macron’s Europe minister Clément Beaune to discuss progress on the talks.

Only once Lord Frost’s meeting is over will the French government make a decision on whether to still carry out its threat of sanctions.

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