Jersey: Fisherman says ‘the situation is biased’
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A spokesman for Emmanuel Macron’s government said the country was ready to retaliate should Brexit Britain continue to break its commitments to the Withdrawal Agreement signed with Brussels at the end of 2019. Gabriel Attal, the French government’s official, told Dimanche en politique, a political TV show on France 3, that all parties will resume talks tomorrow in a bid to defuse tensions.
He said: “Tomorrow we will have new discussions between members of the French government, such as Annick Girardin and Clement Beaune, with the European commissioners and our British counterparts to enforce the agreement.
“Obviously, retaliatory measures are possible. We hope the agreement will be respected in the days and weeks to come.”
Earlier this week, French maritime minister Annick Girardin said Paris would cut off electricity to Jersey – which gets 95 percent of its power supply from France – if the fishing licence dispute was not resolved.
Addressing the threat, Mr Attal added: “What Annick Girardin said is what we all say to the government, that we want the agreement to be respected.
“If the agreement is not respected, there will be possible retaliatory measures.
“We don’t want to go as far as a power cut, but everything is possible.
“Obviously, when someone doesn’t want to respect its part of the agreement, everything is possible.
“Today, that’s not what we want because we want the agreement to be respected.
“I’m optimistic and I believe in the capacity to make them respect this agreement with the help of the European Commission.”
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A Royal Navy fishing patrol ship has returned to base after being scrambled to Jersey in response to the protest by French fishermen.
HMS Severn and its sister ship HMS Tamar were deployed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as 60 fishing vessels sailed to the port of St Helier in an escalation of the row over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Although the demonstration was halted by Thursday afternoon and the fishing boats returned to France, the French navy also sent two of its ships to monitor the situation.
The UK Government has said it will now work with France and Jersey to resolve the dispute before it escalates further.
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And Jersey’s head of government, Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre, said the “very good discussion” with representatives from the protesters had highlighted many issues that could be “very easily resolved”.
The authorities in Jersey have promised further talks to help resolve the row, but the French government hit out at a “British failure” to abide by the terms of the UK-EU trade deal and warned it would “use all the leverage at our disposal” to protect the fishing industry.
The European Union also accused Jersey of breaching the deal signed by the UK and Brussels.
HMS Severn, a River-class offshore patrol vessel, sailed into its home base of Portsmouth Naval Base on Sunday morning with members of the crew waving to members of the public on the walls of Portsmouth Harbour.
It followed sister ship HMS Tamar which returned on Friday.
Local fishermen in Jersey had welcomed the deployment of the two ships to monitor the situation.
Josh Dearing, who owns seafood company The Jersey Catch, said: “We were so exposed, such a small island, and having those two boats out there, although they kept their distance, must have had some sort of presence to stop anything from getting out of hand.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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