UK to rally to Jersey if French threats to fishing licenses materialize
The UK “will continue to support Jersey” if France incurs consecutive “unwarranted” threats over post-Brexit fishing rights, Boris Johnson said.
The Prime Minister met with Jersey Chief Minister John Le Fondre and External Relations Secretary Ian Gorst on Monday, a UK government spokesperson said.
He said he hoped the sanctions imposed by France would be “taken off the table for good.”
French President Emmanuel Macron had threatened to prevent British boats from landing their catches in French ports if a dispute over the granting of fishing licenses was not resolved.
The measures were put on hold when Brexit Minister Lord Frost met with French Minister for Europe Clément Beaune and the EU.
But the dispute has yet to be resolved and Paris has insisted that the sanctions – which could include a ban on British trawlers from landing their catches in French ports and stricter customs controls to hamper cross-Channel trade – remain “on the table” if an agreement cannot be reached.
At the meeting between Mr Johnson, Brexit Minister Lord Frost and Jersey ministers on Monday, a UK government spokesperson said the PM “underlined the strength of the UK / Jersey relationship and s ‘is committed to continuing to work closely together on issues of mutual importance.
They said: “On fishing licenses, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his support for Jersey’s approach, which has been reasonable and fully in line with the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (CCA).
“He noted that the UK and Jersey were issuing licenses based on evidence of historical fishing activity, as required by the ATT.
“The Prime Minister said that the recent threats from France were unwarranted and would have violated the TCA.
“He reiterated that the UK will continue to support Jersey in case they are successful, although he welcomed their postponement and said he hoped they would be taken off the table for good.
“The two sides agreed that they would continue to assess new evidence in support of the remaining license applications and that technical discussions with the European Commission and France would continue.”
Talks are also continuing on issues related to the Northern Ireland Protocol, with Downing Street insisting the government wanted to find a “consensual solution” with the EU.
European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said on Monday that if the British government suspended the protocol, it would have “serious consequences” for the region and Brussels’ relations with the United Kingdom.
But No 10 said there were still “significant gaps” between the two sides and the conditions for invoking Article 16 – which would in effect suspend elements of the provisions preventing a hard border in Ireland – were met.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson did not set a deadline for the duration of the talks, but said: “We will continue the talks, the intensified talks, between the two teams to try to find a consensual solution.”
He added: “I wouldn’t try to put a time limit on him. I think the most important thing is not to put a time limit that might hinder potential progress. “
Speaking to Irish politicians, Mr Sefcovic said he would not speculate that the UK would trigger Article 16.
“However, it is clear that if they were to do so, the EU should consider all the tools at its disposal,” he added.
“It would also have serious consequences for Northern Ireland and for our relations with the UK.”