Boris Johnson calls for EU support in Brexit fishing dispute – POLITICO


ROME – France’s demand for tougher EU action against the UK over fishing rights has been condemned as “very disturbing and very problematic” by the UK government.

In a letter sent on Thursday and obtained by POLITICO on Friday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex warned that the UK’s refusal to cooperate with French demands on its fishing licenses would harm the EU as a whole. Speaking to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Castex told Brussels he must demonstrate that it is more damaging to leave the EU than to stay.

Brexit Minister David Frost hit back in a long Twitter thread as the row overshadowed talks in Rome between G20 leaders.

He wrote that he hoped that France’s opinion was “not more widely shared in the EU” because “to see it expressed in this way is clearly very disturbing and very problematic”.

Frost added that the “threats” made by France were “sadly part of a pattern that has persisted for much of this year.”

The UK is now actively considering taking legal action under the trade and cooperation deal, according to Frost, repeating what he told his EU counterpart at a lunch on Friday .

The latest escalation in Franco-British tensions came when Boris Johnson met his counterparts, including von der Leyen, as part of his efforts to build momentum ahead of next week’s COP26 summit, which the UK is hosting in Glasgow .

A Downing Street spokesperson confirmed that Johnson had expressed his concerns to the Commission Chairman and that the Prime Minister “stressed that the French threats are completely unwarranted and do not appear compatible with the trade and commerce agreement. UK-EU cooperation or with broader international law “.

It will provide an awkward backdrop when Johnson and Emmanuel Macron speak out in a so-called ‘brushing’ in Rome on Sunday, even though the PM has insisted they are ‘old friends’.

France on Wednesday threatened to tighten controls on British fishing boats and trucks if the UK does not issue fishing permits to all French fishermen who have applied for them.

Paris is also considering tariffs on electricity to the Channel Islands and called for a freeze on EU-UK cooperation in other areas until the fisheries dispute is resolved.

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