Brexit: Beaune says agreement must be ‘applied 100 percent’
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In an extraordinary outburst on French television, Clement Beaune, France’s Minister for Europe and a key ally of the French President, claimed his country had numerous “pressure points” – and suggested Paris was ready to use them. Tensions between Britain and France have been mounting in recent weeks, especially with respect to fishing.
Prior to Brexit, French boats were free to fish in the six-to-12 mile zone, but must now prove that they did so prior to Britain quitting the bloc.
Last week it emerged the UK had granted just offering just 12 out of a possible 47 licences to smaller French fishing boats.
French fisherman have already threatened to block the port of Calais to British boats, as well as the Channel Tunnel, if London does not grant before the end of the month.
Threatening us, threatening our fishermen, will not settle their supply of turkey at Christmas
Mr Beaune, speaking to BFM TV yesterday, said in total, France had asked for 450 fishing licences but had only been granted 275.
He said: “We’re 40 percent short, but we insist on those 450.
“They failed on Brexit. It was a bad choice. Threatening us, threatening our fishermen, will not settle their supply of turkey at Christmas.”
“Britons need us to sell their products, including from fishing, they need us for their energy, for their financial services and for their research centres.”
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He crowed: “All of this gives us pressure points.
“We have the means to modulate the degree of our cooperation, to reduce it, if Britain does not implement the agreement.
“If they don’t do their share, then we won’t do 100 percent of our share either.”
Mr Beaune’s comments will do little to disprove Tory MP Andrew Rosindell’s suggestion that France was currently acting like a “hostile state” towards Britain.
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Mr Rosindell, the MP for Romford in Essex, said earlier this week: “In just the past few weeks we have seen France threaten to cut energy supplies to the UK and the Channel Islands as well as well-founded accusations that France stole five million doses of coronavirus vaccines destined for the UK.”
The member of the European Research Group (ERG), added: “Alongside its petulant response to the AUKUS announcement, and its ongoing and undimmed outrage at our departure from the European Union, we now face a Government in Paris which seems to have little interest in positive relations with us.
“The great irony is that it was the French in the 1950s and 1960s who fought a long campaign to prevent our entry into the newly formed European institutions.”
Mr Rosindell urged the Government to take a long hard look at how France fitted in to Britain’s newly-configured foreign policy, especially in the context of the Integrated Review of Britain’s defence capabilities.
He explained: “The Integrated Review describes our relationship with France as ‘a deep and long-standing security and defence partnership with France, underpinned by the Lancaster House treaties and exemplified by our Combined Joint Expeditionary Force’.
“France’s recent behaviour makes a mockery of this depiction.
“It is time for the Government to be clear with France: we have friends across Europe, the Commonwealth and indeed the world.
“France is not as important as it thinks it is.”
ERG deputy chairman David Jones, the Tory MP for Clwyd West, told Express.co.uk France’s President had an eye on next year.
He said: “The truth is that M Macron is desperately worried about next year’s French presidential election and he considers it politically expedient to try to bash the Brits.
“Sadly for him, he appears to be having little impact, with public opinion polls showing net disapproval for his performance.
“A recent poll showed an approval rating of only 29 percent, suggesting that his apparently tough stance is having no impact with French voters and that his days in the Elysee Palace may well be numbered.”
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