(Bloomberg) — The U.K. and French navies dispatched military patrol vessels to the isle of Jersey amid a deepening row over post-Brexit fishing rights.
The two British patrol ships were deployed Wednesday night ahead of a potential blockade by French fishermen as a precautionary measure, the U.K. said. France said it sent two vessels Thursday morning to guarantee the safety of everyone at sea.
The deployment of the ships is a sign of the ongoing frictions between the two NATO allies, caused by Britain’s exit from the European Union. Negotiations over fish were one of the most contentious elements of the post-Brexit accord. France on Tuesday threatened to cut off power to Jersey to protest a lack of fishing licenses. Previously, Paris said it would limit access for U.K. financial services companies into the EU if its fishermen aren’t treated fairly.
- Representatives from Jersey’s government met with some French fishermen
- French authorities send a second patrol boat to zone on Thursday morning
- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Jersey’s political leaders on Wednesday and said any blockade would be “unjustified”
- The French government is in touch with the British, according to a French diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity
Jersey Officials Speak With Fishermen (10:50 a.m.)
Representatives from Jersey’s government have met with some of the French fishermen in the island’s harbor.
“We are meeting with French fishing leaders this morning to listen to their concerns regarding fishing rights,” Jersey’s external affairs minister Ian Gorst said in a statement. There are ongoing political and operational efforts “to resolve the current dispute and resume previous good relations,” Gorst said.
France Sends Second Vessel to Jersey Area (10:40 a.m.)
French authorities sent a second patrol boat, the “Themis,” to Jersey to help assure the safety of the fisherman and survey maritime traffic through the zone, a spokeswoman for the regional maritime police, based in Cherbourg, said. The boat joins the “Athos”, which was sent to the area earlier on Thursday. The boats are in French waters, the spokeswoman said.
France Confirms Dispatching a Vessels to Area (10:15 a.m.)
A spokeswoman for the maritime prefecture in Cherbourg confirmed that a coastal patrol boat, called “Athos,” is currently in French waters near the area where the fisherman are “in order to be able to intervene if the situation degenerates.” The patrol boat, carrying French navy personnel, was sent this morning to the zone.
Key Macron Ally Says France Shouldn’t Be Intimidated by U.K. (10:05 a.m.)
French junior minister for European Affairs Clement Beaune, said that France “should not be intimidated” by the U.K. moves. Beaune, a former aide of President Emmanuel Macron, has been taking an aggressive stance toward the U.K. throughout the Brexit negotiations, even trolling Boris Johnson on social media. Beaune, who said France “doesn’t want to fuel tensions,” spoke to David Frost, the U.K. minister in charge of relations with the EU.
Normandy Sea Authority Head Says Region ‘Ready for War’ (10:00 a.m.)
David Sellam, the head of the Normandy-Brittany sea authority, said he believes Jersey has been taken over by an “extremist fringe who want to reduce French fishing access and profit from Brexit”.
The Daily Mail quotes him as saying: “We’re ready for war. We can bring Jersey to its knees if necessary.”
U.K.’s Opposition Lawmaker Calls for Talks (9:50 a.m.)
John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, commenting on the U.K. sending gunboats to Jersey, said:
“The threats on Jersey are completely unreasonable. The Navy’s experience in sensitive situations will help reassure residents and protect Britain’s broader national interests.
“The British government must now get round the table with French colleagues and authorities in Jersey and sort this issue out.”
French Vessels Heading Back into Harbour Entrance. (9:24 a.m.)
Fishermen speaking over marine radio say that are frustrated that no Government of Jersey representative has come out to speak to them.
France Sends Patrol Vessel to Jersey to “Guarantee Safety” (9:11 a.m.)
French authorities sent a military patrol vessel, Athos, to Jersey to “guarantee the safety” of everyone at sea and “accompany” the French flotilla, Sky News political correspondent Rob Powell reports on Twitter, citing the authorities.
The French ministry of defense and Macron’s office didn’t immediately return a request for comment.