The British government called on the French ambassador to explain the arrest of a British fisherman in Le Havre. It is the first time in a long time that London has taken such a drastic measure.
French authorities brought the fishing boat Cornelis Geert Jean, registered in Scotland, to shore on Wednesday, after which the captain was questioned for five hours at the police station. According to the French, he caught oysters illegally and could face a fine of more than 80 thousand euros. The owner of the boat claims that he is licensed to fish in French waters.
This makes Cornelis alter jean pawn in the “hunting war” between the French and the British. Six months ago it broke out when French fishermen closed the port of Channel Island in Jersey, after which the British Navy chased them. According to Paris, British authorities have honored only 15 of the 47 French applications for fishing licenses in British waters.
The British say only a small percentage of applications were rejected because fishermen were unable or unwilling to prove they held historic fishing rights, the standard set out in the Brexit deal. French President Emmanuel Macron has tried for the past six months to drag the rest of the European Union into the fishing dispute, but in Brussels this is seen primarily as a French problem.
The French are now looking for more anti-British measures, such as turning off the power supply to Jersey and taking careful action in Calais so that trade with the British Isles can be seriously delayed. The latter would be a violation of international agreements. In London, countermeasures are being prepared in case the French stick to their threats.
The Anglo-French conflict is not an isolated conflict. ‘Entente Cordiale’ has been on the verge of exploding for several years now. Britain’s exit from the European Union worsened the relationship. For example, there is a long-running debate about Channel Migration. The British accuse the French of doing little to stop migrants wanting to cross, despite the millions that London is moving in in compensation.
During the Corona crisis, Macron sparked British outrage by calling the AstraZeneca vaccine defective. There have also been disagreements over travel restrictions between the two countries. At the same time, France has been tough within the European Union when it comes to the problems surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol. And against France’s will, the European Union made a concession to London last month.
Brexit clown Boris Johnson
The French view Britain’s secession as a huge geopolitical mistake and Johnson as the Brexit buffoon. The shock at the Elysee was even greater when the British, Americans and Australians announced in September that they would work closely in defense to form a front against China. Paris also missed out on a $1 billion order to build nuclear submarines for Australia.
It is hoped that Macron and Johnson can ease tensions somewhat when they meet this weekend at the G-20 summit in Italy. However, Macron needs to show his strength because his domestic popularity leaves much to be desired and the presidential election is near. According to observers, the Franco-British conflict can only be resolved if Johnson or Macron clear the field.
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