Macron ‘pushing hybrid war’ against UK on fisheries and migration to punish Brexit vote

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The French President has been locking horns with the UK Government over post-Brexit fishing licences and the management of Channel migrant crossings between France and Britain.

According to EU expert Gabriel van de Bloemfontein, Mr Macron has been taking advantage of his position in the EU to punish Britain for Brexit, five years after the referendum.

The Nexit Denktank researcher told “If we talk about Macron and France, it’s not just about the fisheries deals.

“We also see it with the migration crisis in the Channel.”

He added: “I’ve seen photos of French border guards basically waiting for the migrants that are going across the Channel.

“To me, this is a hybrid war that France is pushing against the UK.

“And I am not the only one who thinks this is to punish the UK for Brexit.”

On Friday, a French minister said that France will ask the European Union to start legal action against Britain if it fails to issue more fishing licences by a Friday deadline set by the European Commission.

Clement Beaune, the junior European Affairs Minister, also accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of trying unsuccessfully to isolate France in the dispute over post-Brexit fishing licences for French fishermen.

France is still waiting for Britain to approve nearly 100 licences for its fishermen to operate in UK territorial waters, Mr Beaune told France Info radio.

He said: “If Britain today gives a few dozen extra licences as a token of goodwill… we will take that into account.”

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He added that if the deadlock persists, France will ask the Commission at the weekend to announce the start of legal action.

Britain and the EU agreed to set up a licensing system to grant fishing vessels access to each other’s waters when Britain left the bloc.

But France says it has not been given the full number it is due, while Britain says only those lacking the correct documentation have not been granted.

Fishing represents a tiny share of both the French and British economies, but it is politically sensitive.

Mr Beaune said: “Boris Johnson told himself he could isolate the French. We have re-mobilised (the Europeans) so that the deal is respected.”

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Mr Johnson’s spokesman told reporters on Thursday that Britain never set a deadline for resolving the issue, a comment Mr Beaune said was “not a sign of trust”.

French Seas Minister Annick Girardin said on Thursday that France would urge the EU Commission to take the matter for arbitration by a committee of British and EU representatives that oversees the implementation of the Brexit trade agreement.

If that failed, France would push for the Commission to launch litigation proceedings, a move the minister said would take time.

As far for the migration crisis, over which relations further soured with the drowning deaths of 27 migrants as they tried to cross the Channel to Britain last month, Macron said Britain’s labour policies were to blame.

Britain’s economic model was based on illegal labour, he said, adding that there would be problems as long as that was not fixed.

Britain says it needs France’s cooperation to stem the flow of migrants.

Macron tried however to also strike a more conciliatory tone, telling the same news conference: “I love Britain, I love its people, I crave a government that just wants to work in good faith with us.”

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