Speaking in Rome from the G20 summit Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a warning that the nature of Mr Castex’s letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, which lambasted Britain for its handling of the ongoing post-Brexit fishing row, was not in the “spirit” of either the Withdrawal Agreement or the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
The defiant Prime Minister slammed: “I’ll just say this for the record: 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 think that is compatible either with the spirit or the letter of the Withdrawal Agreement.
“Or the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.”
Mr Johnson concluded: “That is all I will say about that one!”
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His damning comments followed a glowing review of France’s efforts in the green technology space and for their climate change initiatives.
Responding to a question from ITV’s Robert Peston on the UK and France’s relationship, Mr Johnson said: “On where we are with our French friends… I want to stress again that we have had good working with Emmanuel macron and his team on COP26, on green technology.
“The French do an extraordinary job as everybody knows! Particularly with their power generation systems – their commitments are excellent in nature.”
He added how he supported President Emmanuel Macron’s One Planet initiative, which sees commitments pledged by World leaders.
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He was however clear that despite his praise for green advancements in France, the position on fishing rights and licences remains “unchanged” for Britain.
It comes as in a blistering letter, Prime Minsiter Castex wrote: “The uncooperative attitude of the United Kingdom today risks not only causing great harm to fishermen, mainly French, but also for the [European] Union…
“In that it sets a precedent for the future and challenges our credibility and our ability to assert our rights with regard to international commitments signed by the union.
“It, therefore, seems necessary for the European Union to show its total determination to obtain full respect for the agreement by the United Kingdom and to assert its rights by using the levers at its disposal in a firm, united and proportionate manner.
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“It is essential to clearly show to European public opinion that respect for subscribed engagement is non-negotiable and that there is more damage in leaving the union than in remaining there.”
Mr Castex added: “If no satisfactory solution is found in this context, the European Union will have to apply Article 506 of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and take corrective measures.
“In a manner proportionate to the economic and social damage resulting from the breaches.”
He suggested to Ms Von der Leyen that they could impose “customs duties on certain fishery products” as punishment in a furious call for action against the UK.
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