Jersey fishing dispute: France's 'sinister' threat to cut power to island means Channel cable project should be scrapped, MP says

·2-min read

France's "sinister" threat to cut power to Jersey means plans to build an energy cable linking Britain to the continent should be scrapped, an MP has said.

Penny Mordaunt, a former defence secretary, said going ahead with the Aquind project would be a "strategic error", is "not in our national interest", and risks further politicising the delivery of energy.

The importance of power supplies has been highlighted by the threatened blockade of Jersey's main port of St Helier over French fishing rights.

Jersey imports 95% of its electricity from France. As French fishermen argue over post-Brexit permits to fish in Jersey's waters, France's seas minister, Annick Girardin, has threatened to cut power to the island.

The £1.2bn Aquind project - described on its website as a "high voltage direct current power transmission link" - would bring electricity from Normandy to the Eastney district of Portsmouth.

It is claimed the connector could supply as much as 5% of Britain's energy needs and power millions of homes.

But in a letter to Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, Ms Mordaunt said that increasing our dependence on French energy "increases the likelihood it will become politicised and involved in any future discussions, in particular on fishing".

The Conservative MP for Portsmouth North added: "To do so seems a bad idea and one I am sure UK fishermen would not support."

She is urging Mr Kwarteng - who will decide on the plan - to stop it.

Ms Mordaunt told Portsmouth newspaper The News, which printed excerpts from her letter to Mr Kwarteng: "Recent events are further evidence that the interconnector is not in our national interest.

"It will make us less resilient, it's a strategic error and it potentially will undermine further negotiations that we may wish to have with the EU and certainly member states."

The French threat to cut power to Jersey was "sinister", she added.

Jersey's government said on Thursday it had held a "constructive meeting" with protesting French fishermen in an attempt to resolve the dispute over fishing rights.

The government said it had agreed to set up a forum with the fishermen after a fleet of an estimated 56 French vessels arrived there.

The UK government said it was "pleased that French fishing boats have now left the vicinity of Jersey" and Navy ships were preparing to return home.

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