IThe dispute over fishing licenses for French vessels in the English Channel is showing its muscles. “The prime minister has expressed his clear support for Jersey and confirmed that the two Royal Navy patrol boats would remain in place as a precautionary measure to monitor the situation,” said a statement in Downing Street on Thursday. Previously, Johnson had returned to brainstorming with the Jersey government.
As a crown possession, Jersey is not part of the UK, but London is responsible for foreign and defense policy.
In a telephone conversation with Jersey’s chief administration officer, John Le Fondre, and Senator Ian Gorst, who is responsible for foreign affairs, Johnson underscored their “unwavering support.” At the same time, he noted the need to de-escalate the situation, the spokesman said.
Angered by the supposedly slow granting of fishing licenses to French fishermen on Channel Island, French Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin threatened retaliation, mentioning Jersey’s power supply via an undersea cable. Jersey receives 95 percent of its electricity from three submarine cables in France, just 25 kilometers apart.
France also launched two warships on Thursday. The two patrol boats are in French waters near the island, the AFP news agency reported on Thursday, citing the responsible maritime prefecture. It is a precautionary measure to save lives if necessary.
The French Secretary of State for Europe, Clément Beaune, told the agency that the British maneuvers “need not impress us.” He spoke with British Brexit Minister David Frost. “It is not our desire to create tension,” he said. On the other hand, the contractually stipulated rules would have to be applied quickly and completely.
After the British left the EU, there was a dispute over the total catches and their distribution. At times, negotiations on a Brexit trade pact threatened to fail due to the fish problem. French fishermen have long been angry about access to British waters after Brexit. In the past, British and French fishermen have clashed in the English Channel.
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