Take that, Macron! UK looks to bypass Dover-Calais with new trade routes via Netherlands

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Amid the uproar from French officials, the UK Government is now looking at alternatives to the busy trade route. Following the threats to cut off energy supplies and increase checks for goods, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is now investigating the possibility of using the Port of Immingham in Grimsby. Mr Shapps is doing so as part of a risk-reduction strategy for the UK.

As reported by Politico, the strategy will also look to channel trade through Dutch, Belgian and Scandinavian ports.

Last week, French officials detained the Cornelis Gert Jan while also threatening increased customs checks on goods and a reduction in energy supplies heading to the UK.

In response, the UK threatened to use measures within the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

After talks with the Prime Minister on Monday, Mr Macron looked to ease the rhetoric surrounding UK-Franco relations and pulled back from introducing measures.

Talks will continue on Tuesday, although the threat of action from UK officials still remains.

Lord Frost will travel to Paris on Thursday to conduct talks with EU minister Clement Beaune.

It is hoped the two will find solutions to the fisheries disagreement and areas of the Brexit deal which have sparked issues.

A source from the UK Government welcomed the de-escalation from the French government but warned measures within the Trade and Cooperation Agreement would’ve been taken.

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The source said: “We’re glad that France has stepped back.

“We’ve stuck to our position and were ready to respond if they had bought forward these measures, which would have put the EU in breach of the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

“Our position on fishing licenses remains unchanged.

“We are clear that our position has always been in line with the TCA, while we remain open to considering further evidence to support the remaining applications under the terms of the agreement.

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“We look forward to hearing how France and the EU want to proceed on Thursday when we discuss a range of issues important to the U.K.-EU relationship, including the Northern Ireland protocol.

“We are in solutions mode and we want to resolve these issues consensually if we can.”

In a further de-escalation of relations, French officials released the Cornelis Gert Jan this week.

Speaking on Tuesday, Environment Secretary George Eustice welcomed the move.

He said: “I understand that that vessel has now been released.

“It’s a decision by the French to step back from the threats they made.

“We welcome that.”

Despite the row, the Jersey government announced a further 49 licences to French vessels which will last until January 31, 2022.

A total of 152 temporary and permanent licences have now been issued by the government.

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