Fishing rights row: Back down on fishing or we’ll blockade Calais, say the French

·2-min read

French fishing skippers today gave Britain a two-week deadline to grant them licences to work in UK waters before they start blockades.

The latest threat to supply chains came from bosses in charge of the fleet at Boulogne, France’s busiest shipping port.

Action being considered by French fleets could include blocking the Channel Tunnel and the ferry port of Calais, preventing billions of pounds-worth of imports from reaching shelves.

The potential blockade follows Britain’s decision to grant only 12 of 47 small French vessels fishing rights in UK waters since the Brexit agreement.

Boulogne skipper Luc Ramet said that “if nothing is done in 15 days” then he and his fellow fishermen were ready to “take direct action” to block Britain.

The president of the fishing committee for the northern Hauts-de-France region, Olivier Lepretre, said blocking the port in Calais and exports into the UK is “an option”.

The escalation of the fishing row comes amid signs of stockpiling of Christmas products such as frozen turkeys due to fears of empty shelves. Aldi said it is selling 1,500 frozen turkey crowns a day and Tesco has also seen sales of frozen turkeys up on normal levels.

It also follows two weeks of chaos at petrol pumps after forecourts ran dry of petrol and diesel because of a shortage of tanker drivers. But in interviews at Conservative Party Conference this week, Boris Johnson has played down the risk. The Prime Minister told GB News: “We have fantastic supply chains in this country, fantastic logistics, there is a problem of demand.”

France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune, has hinted that energy supplies could be disrupted over a lack of access to UK waters.

But today deputy prime minister Dominic Raab said the UK will be “calm but resolute” in the row over fishing rights. He suggested a “Gallic shrug” may be the best response and pointed to the French electoral cycle as a reason for the heated rhetoric over fishing licences.

Mr Raab told TalkRadio: “What the French need to adjust to is the new reality as we have left the EU ... they can’t expect to have the kind of quotas they had previously.”

Passengers arriving at Heathrow were delayed today for several hours due to a problem with passport e-gates. The airport wrote on Twitter: “Our teams are working closely with Border Force to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

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