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French fishermen threaten Channel blockade


French fishermen are threatening a Channel blockade after the EU refused to back Emmanuel Macron's demand for tough action against the UK over post-Brexit rights.

Paris was infuriated when Jersey only granted licences to 12 small French boats out of 47 applications this summer - saying they had failed to provide evidence they were entitled. 

Last week other EU member states poured cold water on Macron's bid to get them to sign up on immediate retaliation, instead agreeing a watered down declaration calling for more 'technical' work.

However, the French fleet is now warning they are ready to take matters into their own hands. 

Fishing rights were one of the key battlegrounds between Britain and France in their post-Brexit negotiations, and Mr Macron's looming presidential election means he is under pressure to look tough. 

Earlier this year, the dispute over licences led both France and Britain to send patrol vessels off the shores of Jersey, which is a self-governing British Crown Dependency. 

Britain says the majority of the vessels were denied access because they failed to provide evidence that they had fished in the six-to-12-mile nautical zone in the years before the UK's referendum on leaving the EU.  

Jersey external relations minister Ian Gorst said the island's government had taken 'a pragmatic, reasonable and evidence-based approach' to the issue.  

Diplomatic relations between the countries have hit a low point recently - with French ministers even threatening to cut electricity supplies.

Last week France rallied its European allies to present a 'common front' against the UK in the row over post-Brexit fishing licences.  

But while France originally wanted the bloc to accuse Britain of a 'clear failure to comply with the provisions' of agreements, the EU instead is calling on the UK to ensure 'continuity' for fishing fleets.

Paris is still thought to be preparing separate 'retaliatory' measures designed to punish the UK and which will be unveiled in the coming weeks.