Fishing: Loughton urges consequences for French vessels
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France has threatened to block British boats from some French ports and tighten checks on cargo travelling between France and the UK if the Government does not issue more fishing licences for European vessels. They are demanding an increase in the number of licences given to French vessels to operate in the UK’s six-12 nautical mile zone to avoid retaliatory action.
Paris has issued a deadline of next Tuesday for a resolution to be found.
Deliberately slowing down customs checks at the border and blocking access to ports for some ships would disrupt the UK’s supply chain in the lead up to Christmas.
But Tory MPs have said the UK will “sidestep Calais” and use other ports if necessary to stop trade problems.
They said such a move would have a massive hit on France’s economy.
David Jones, the deputy leader of the eurosceptic European Research Group of Tory MPs, told Express.co.uk: “In terms of trying to block supply lines in the run-up to Christmas, the Government know that we don’t have to travel through France in order to take our supplies from the continent.
“There are some pretty major ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp that would love to have more British trade than they have at the moment.
“France needs to remember that. It’s fairly patent hysteria on the part of Monsieur Macron and his government.”
He said the action being taken by France was clearly because Mr Macron was worried about next year’s presidential election.
“He’s trying to at tough because he thinks that will serve him well in those elections,” the Clwyd West MP added.
Warning the tactic could badly backfire, he said: “They really need to give consideration to ports like Calais who depend obviously entirely on the cross Channel trade.
“Calais frankly would frankly suffer economic collapse if trade were to be cut off.
“British purchasers and British exporters will find other ways of exporting the content that bypasses Calais entirely if they find it not to be a reliable port.”
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said the actions of the French government were “ridiculous”.
“If the French have got a problem they should discuss it rather than taking such ridiculous action,” he said.
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Another MP privately told this website: “Macron is bad news for France.
“I really feel that he’s looking like a spoilt brat.”
While France has accused the UK of refusing to give out fishing licences, British officials argue they are acting in line with the EU trade agreement.
They say all those vessels who have provided documentation to prove they had historical access to the waters have had their applications approved.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said this morning: “We are monitoring this situation very carefully.
“We have relayed our concerns to the European Commission and the French government.”
He added: “We think the threats outlined yesterday evening were disappointing, were disproportionate and were simply not what we expect from a close ally and partner.
“I can’t at this moment set out exactly what our response might be. It will be appropriate, it will be calibrated.
“We want to have further discussions with French government and the EU. We stand ready to respond appropriately.”
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