‘France will not give up’ Barnier tells UK to expect a long battle over fishing rights

Brexit: Barnier says agreement ‘not respected by London’

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Michel Barnier has backed French fisheries to win its battle for the post-Brexit fishing licenses. The former chief EU Brexit negotiator warned Britain that France “will not resign or give up” its right to fish in British waters. Mr Barnier is now running to be the presidential candidate for Les Républicains, the French centre-right party.

The French government is currently locked in a bitter dispute with Britain over the allocation of fishing licences – with no solution in sight.

Mr Barnier said: “We negotiated for four years with the British government, it was very hard and now they are not respecting their signature, that’s not acceptable.

“So the French government must not give up, it must not show resignation.

“Fishermen do not need controversy, they need to be supported.”

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Speaking in Bordeaux, the former European Commissioner added: “I am at their side, to ask only one thing: that the agreements we have negotiated are respected.

“The licences we are waiting for must be awarded by the British in good faith, and there is no good faith at present.

“If I am president, I will work on a constructive relationship with the United Kingdom, provided that we trust each other, but trust cannot be a one-way street.”

Earlier today, French fishermen blocked off a boat in the port of St Malo as they started a day of protests over post-Brexit fishing rights.

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There are also plans for the French fishermen to block the Channel Tunnel and the port of Calais later today.

Mr Barnier also criticised Boris Johnson’s open letter last night to Emmanuel Macron on the Channel migrant crossings.

He said: “This is obviously an additional provocation from Boris Johnson, who is in a state of mind of confrontation on all subjects with the European Union.”


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Mr Barnier added: “I find this is frankly absolutely inadmissible. What you don’t need is confrontation, it’s to sit down at the table and find solutions.”

French officials have piled on the British Prime Minister after the letter badly backfired on the UK. 

The French government spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, said that the proposal for France to take back people who successfully cross the Channel on small boats was “clearly not what we need to solve this problem”.

Mr Atta suggested that the letter contradicted what Mr Johnson had told Mr Macron in private, adding: “We are sick of double-speak.”

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