According to Emmanuel Macron’s sidekick, France is prepared to restrict turkey exports to the UK in retaliation for Britain’s unwillingness to issue enough licences to French fishermen.
Clement Beaune, France’s Minister for Europe and friend of the French President, claimed his country has multiple “pressure points” – and suggested Paris was ready to use them in an astonishing outburst on French television.
Tensions between the UK and France have been rising in recent weeks, particularly over fisheries.
Before Brexit, French vessels were free to fish in the six-to-12-mile zone, but they now had to verify that they did so before the UK left the EU. Last week, it was revealed that the UK had only awarded 12 out of a total of 47 licences to smaller French fishing boats.
If London does not give in before the end of the month, French fishermen have threatened to close the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel to British boats.
Mr Beaune told BFM TV yesterday that France had requested 450 fishing licences in total but had only received 275.
“We’re 40 percent short,” he continued, “but we insist on those 450.”
“They failed on Brexit. It was a bad choice. Threatening us, threatening our fishermen, will not settle their supply of turkey at Christmas.”
“Britons need us to sell their products, including fishing. They need us for their energy, for their financial services and for their research centres.”
“All of this gives us pressure points,” he exclaimed.
“We have the means to modulate the degree of our cooperation, to reduce it, if Britain does not implement the agreement.”
“If they don’t do their share, then we won’t do 100 percent of our share either.”
Mr Beaune’s remarks will do little to refute Tory MP Andrew Rosindell’s claim that France is currently operating as a “hostile state” toward the United Kingdom.
“In just the past few weeks, we have seen France threaten to cut energy supplies to the UK and the Channel Islands as well as well-founded accusations that France stole five million doses of coronavirus vaccines destined for the UK,” Mr Rosindell, the MP for Romford in Essex, said earlier this week.
“Alongside its petulant response to the AUKUS announcement, and its ongoing and undimmed outrage at our departure from the European Union, we now face a Government in Paris which seems to have little interest in positive relations with us,” the member of the European Research Group (ERG) added.
“The great irony is that it was the French in the 1950s and 1960s who fought a long campaign to prevent our entry into the newly formed European institutions.”
Mr Rosindell encouraged the Government to examine how France fit into the United Kingdom’s newly restructured foreign policy, particularly in light of the Integrated Review of Britain’s defence capabilities.
“The Integrated Review describes our relationship with France as ‘a deep and long-standing security and defence partnership with France, underpinned by the Lancaster House treaties and exemplified by our Combined Joint Expeditionary Force,'” he said.
“France’s recent behaviour makes a mockery of this depiction.”
“It is time for the Government to be clear with France: we have friends across Europe, the Commonwealth, and indeed the world.”
“France is not as important as it thinks it is.”