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France’s Brexit punishment letter backfires as French see ‘no benefit’ of staying in EU | Politics | News

French Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week to encourage Brussels to back Paris’ position against London over post-Brexit fishing rights.

The letter called on the bloc to demonstrate there was “more damage to leaving the EU than to remaining there” has also soured ties.

Mr Castex pressed the European Union to use the “levers at its disposal” and to “make clear…that compliance with the commitments entered into is non-negotiable and that leaving the Union is more damaging than remaining in it”.

But according the Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois, the move proved that Mr Castex himself does not believe staying in the EU brings tangible benefits to member states, so much so that the EU must prove Brexit went wrong to convince its own citizens.

He pointed out: “The irony is that Castex admits between the lines that there is no real and tangible benefit to staying in the EU since life in the UK has to be artificially rotten from Brexit to try to convince European opinions that there would be advantages to the EU!”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “puzzled about what is going on” and claimed Paris’ behaviour could be in contravention of the UK’s Brexit deal with the EU.

Speaking to reporters on a flight to the G20 in Rome, he urged British fishermen to “be confident about going about their lawful business” as he promised action against any infringements on their right to fish.

France is threatening to block British boats from its ports and tighten checks on vessels if an issue over a lack of licences for small French vessels to fish in British waters is not resolved by tomorrow.

The UK has said it could retaliate if France carries out its hardline stance.

READ MORE: Brexit trade war begins in just HOURS – Macron on brink of conflict

Britain told France on Monday that it must back down within 48 hours in a fishing row that threatens to spiral into a wider trade dispute or face tortuous legal action under the Brexit trade deal.

The row intensified last week when the French seized a British dredger, the Cornelis Gert Jan, in French waters near Le Havre, saying it did not have the required licences, though the boat’s owner said it had all the appropriate documents.

“The French have made completely unreasonable threats, including to the Channel Islands and to our fishing industry, and they need to withdraw those threats or else we will use the mechanisms of our trade agreement with the EU to take action,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News.

“The French have behaved unfairly. It’s not within the terms of the trade deal. And if somebody behaves unfairly in a trade deal, you’re entitled to take action against them and seek some compensatory measures. And that is what we will do if the French don’t back down,” Ms Truss said.

Asked over what time frame France should back down, Ms Truss added: “This issue needs to be resolved in the next 48 hours.”

Paris has said it could ban British fishing boats from unloading in French ports, carry out additional licence checks on British vessels, tighten controls of trucks and reinforce customs and hygiene controls if talks fail.

The fishing issue dogged Brexit talks for years, not because of its economic importance but because of its political significance. If not resolved, it could trigger the beginning of dispute measures in the Brexit trade deal as early as this week.

When asked why the fishing issue, a long source of discord between France and Britain, had again soured ties, Truss suggested it might have something to do with next year’s presidential election in France.

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