‘Not our allies!’ Boris told to overhaul relations with France over Brexit fishing spat

French fisherman supports retaliation over fishing row

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Officials remain locked in talks to solve the dispute surrounding fishing licences for EU vessels in British waters. Brexit Minister Lord David Frost held talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic last week and continued discussions on Tuesday with French Europe Minister Clement Beaune.

The need for an emergency meeting came after a British trawler was impounded by French authorities for a week before it was eventually released.

Paris has also rowed back on its threat to impose sanctions and is seeking assurances from London that it will grant greater access to the UK’s exclusive 12-mile fishing zone.

But, Brexiteer Ben Harris-Quinney argues now is the time for the UK to go even further and review its partnership with France.

The chair of the Bow Group think-tank told Express.co.uk: “The Brexit deal on fishing rights wasn’t satisfactory, and clearly the British fishing industry are not satisfied with a result that on balance gives European trawlers far more freedom in our waters than we get in theirs.

“More broadly, recently there have been a number of incidents that demonstrate why it is a very bad idea to have foreign nations so involved in critical UK infrastructure.

“Whilst there is little to be gained in outright enmity, the French are not our allies in any meaningful respect, and we need to review our partnerships with them.”

The former Government adviser also hit out at recent threats from officials in Paris to cut off energy supplies to Jersey.

The island receives more than 90 percent of electricity from France and earlier this year its main port was blockaded by French trawlers.

Mr Harris-Quinney noted the UK’s reliance on French infrastructure has allowed Paris to use it as “leverage when any minor dispute arises”.

He added: “Core Europe does not want Britain to succeed post-Brexit, and our focus should be on a close partnership with nations and leaders that view the world through the prism of national sovereignty, and support the ideas behind Brexit.”

The UK left the EU Common Fisheries Policy after the Brexit Trade and Co-Operation Agreement (TCA) was sealed last December.

The agreement reduces EU fishing quotas in UK waters by 25 percent over the next five years – and requires European vessels to provide historical evidence of landing in British seas.

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Officials in France erupted after it emerged just 19 of the 50 applications to fish between six and 12 nautical miles off the British coast were approved.

The UK Government says it has approved 98 percent of all EU applications, representing more than 1,700 vessels.

Mr Beaune issued an update on Tuesday following talks with Lord Frost and called on the matter to be solved as soon as possible.

He said: “France remains open to dialogue, but a rapid solution must be found for our fishermen, in full respect of our agreements.”

Lord Frost said he welcomed the move by France to defer its threat to increase checks or block British boats from French ports and said he hoped “they will take them off the table permanently”.

He added: “We obviously have different views on the fisheries question but it is our intention to keep working to get to an outcome which is fair to those who are genuinely entitled to fish in our waters.”
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