Macron ’desperate to paint Brexit as a disaster’ says expert

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The UK has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with France over post-Brexit fishing rights. The row escalated this week when France threatened sanctions unless more licences were granted.

But the director of Bruges Group, a pro-Brexit think tank, lashed out at the French President and claimed he needed to be “reined in”.

Brexiteer Robert Oulds also insisted that Mr Macron’s threats were “just bluff”.

Mr Oulds added that the row “shows why we were correct to leave the EU”.

He said: “His threats are just bluff and this pint-sized Napoleon really does need to be reined in.”

Mr Oulds accused Mr Macron of “picking a row” with the UK ahead of the upcoming French presidential election.

He said: “Macron is in a difficult situation politically.

“There’s every likelihood that he will lose next year’s presidential elections which are coming close and he just picking a row with Britain.

“But of course he doesn’t realise that many French people actually back Brexit and would actually back France leaving the EU itself and think that Britain has done the right thing.”

The fishing row comes amid ongoing tensions between the UK and Brussels over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Brexit Minister Lord Frost discussed Northern Ireland and fishing rights in a meeting with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic on Friday.

The meeting followed discussions between Lord Frost and France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune on Thursday in a bid to calm tensions over fishing licences.

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France threatened sanctions earlier this week over what it perceives as a refusal to issue licences to its trawlers to operate in UK waters.

Under the Brexit deal, EU boats which can show they have fished in British waters in at least four of the years from 2012 to 2016 are eligible for a licence.

Some 1,831 applications for licences have been received, with 1,793 issued.

The main source of contention has been for smaller vessels, the under 12-metre category fishing between six and 12 nautical miles of the coast, where 50 applications have been received – all from French vessels – but just 19 have been issued.

Lord Frost is due to speak to Mr Beaune again next week.

Following the latest meeting, Downing Street said the French government had assured it will not immediately restore the threats as talks continue.

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