Andrew Neil pulls Macron apart over fishing row: ‘UK agreed permits for 98% of boats’

France: Liz Truss warns to ‘stop threatening’ UK

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On Sunday, the French President gave Boris Johnson a 24-hour deadline to make a “significant move” to resolve the Channel fishing row as he threatened to introduce more stringent port and border checks from Tuesday. But ex-BBC journalist Mr Neil suggested Mr Macron was overreacting as he pointed out that the UK has licensed 98 percent of EU vessels that have applied for access to British waters post-Brexit, while just 55 French boats have been refused.

Mr Neil tweeted: “Britain agreed fishing permits for 98% of boats that applied, as per post-Brexit trade deal; 55 French boats not given access to Channel Isles waters because they failed to provide any evidence they’d ever fished in these waters.

“And for that Macron threatens a trade war.”

Mr Neil’s tweet comes after Mr Macron met the Prime Minister at the G20 summit in Rome on Sunday to discuss the fishing row.

In a post-G20 press briefing, the French President told reporters: “The ball is now in their court.

“If the British don’t do any significant move, measures starting from November 2 will need to be implemented.

“I would deplore it. But what we cannot do is not respond and not defend our fishermen.”

French officials have warned they will bar UK fishing boats from some ports and tighten customs checks on lorries entering the country unless more licences are granted for their small vessels to fish in Britain’s waters.

The Prime Minister has warned France he considers its stance against the UK to be in breach of both the spirit and the letter of the Brexit trade deal with Brussels.

And Mr Johnson said he was “puzzled” after a letter from French prime minister Jean Castex to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen was leaked over the weekend in which Mr Castex said the UK should be shown “it causes more damage to leave the EU than to stay in”.

Speaking at a press conference in the Italian capital, the Prime Minister said: “I must say I was puzzled to read a letter from the French prime minister explicitly asking for Britain to be punished for leaving the EU.

“I just have to say to everybody I don’t believe that that is compatible either with the spirit or the letter of the Withdrawal Agreement or the Trade and Co-operation Agreement.”

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Speaking this morning, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss insisted the UK will not “roll over” in the face of “unreasonable” threats from Mr Macron.

Ms Truss said the UK would respond by triggering dispute resolution measures in the Brexit trade deal to seek “compensatory measures” if Mr Macron’s administration goes ahead with its threats.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Those threats are completely unwarranted.

“We allocated the fishing licences completely in line with what is in the trade agreement with the EU and the French need to withdraw those threats.

“Otherwise we will use the dispute resolution mechanism in the EU deal to take action.”

She added: “We are simply not going to roll over in the face of these threats.”

The fishing row comes amid high tensions between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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