Home secretary Priti Patel has described France’s decision to detain a British trawler and verbally warn another as “disappointing”.
When asked today whether she was in talks with her French equivalent, she told journalists: “It is disappointing, and we as a country fulfilled all our obligations under the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).
“But at the same time, discussions across Government will continue, both at commission level but also with counterparts within the French administration.”
Downing Street has already said it will retaliate if France decides to block UK boats from its ports amid an ongoing row over post-Brexit fishing permits in the Channel.
Environment secretary George Eustice told MPs this morning that the UK will “stand squarely behind Jersey” and explained that the detained trawler was granted an EU fishing permit, and that it was “unclear” why it had been removed from the list of permitted vessels.
Labour has also hit out at France’s decision, with shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard calling its threats “completely wrong and unacceptable” earlier today.
Downing Street has said it is “urgently” looking into French authorities’ overnight detainment of a British fishing trawler.
A government spokesperson has said: “France’s threats are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we would expect from a close ally and partner,” and said the proposed retaliatory measures “do not appear to be compatible” with the UK’s EU withdrawal agreement “and wider international law, and, if carried through, will be met with an appropriate and calibrated response.”
The French Maritime Ministry wrote in a tweet: “This Wednesday, two English ships were fined during classic checks off Le Havre.
“The first did not comply spontaneously: verbalisation.
“The second did not have a licence to fish in our waters: diverted to the quay and handed over to the judicial authority.”
France and Britain have been embroiled in a post Brexit dispute over fishing licenses.
France has complained that its fishermen have only been granted with half the licences to fish in UK waters that they are entitled to under the Brexit agreement.
In September the UK and the Jersey refused dozens of French fishing licences.
The French government has threatened to bring in tariffs on energy, customs, and limit port access.
The British government said it has granted licenses to fishing vessels with an evidenced history of operating in its waters prior to the UK’s exit from the EU.