Brexit: Macron accused of 'xenophobic reaction' by Jersey fisherman
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Mr Wallace, the Tory MP for Wyre and Preston North, was speaking at the end of a week in which various French officials lashed out at Britain after it was revealed the UK had offered just 12 out of a possible 47 licences to smaller French fishing boats. In respect of the Channel Island of Jersey, authorities there have refused to grant fishing licences to 75 French fishing vessels to access its waters from October 30.
Annick Girardin, France’s Maritime Minister accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Government of “dragging their feet or failing to live up to their commitments” – warning retaliation could involve energy supplies, educational exchanges, trade flows and rail links. However, Mr Wallace, a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and a former Scots Guards captain, was unfazed by France’s belligerent approach.
We wouldn’t tolerate British people breaking the law and we would expect all countries to uphold the law
Two Royal Naval river-class patrol boats, HMS Severn and HMS Tamar, were sent to Jersey in May after French fishermen threatened to blockade Jersey’s harbour in protest over a perceived lack of access to its waters.
And in a clear indication that a similar approach could be used in the event of similar disruptive activity, Mr Wallace told the Telegraph: “All states have an obligation to uphold the law.
“We wouldn’t tolerate British people breaking the law and we would expect all countries to uphold the law.”
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“Fundamentally we will make sure we protect life at sea, no matter whose that is.”
Mr Wallace also dismissed any suggestion that relations with France were being undermined by Aukus, the trilateral security deal with Australia and the USA which saw Canberra tear up a £56billion defence contract with France to build a fleet of conventional submarines.
He said:”The short answer is, Australia has sought a different strategic capability than it had originally chosen. I understand why they chose that.
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“Having made that decision, it was very likely and certainly understandable that they would choose Five Eyes partners.”
“France’s defence industry is heavily nationalised so often I think France takes the rejection of their industry as the rejection of France,” he says.
“Whereas, for us, I hope that British Aerospace wins all the bids it goes in for but, when it doesn’t, I don’t go, ‘well that country has rejected us.’
“How the President of France chooses to react to that and the sort of briefings that we had in public, I think it’s more ‘sacre bleu’ than ‘separation’, as they say in France.”
Speaking today, David Jones, the deputy chairman of the European Research Group, echoed Mr Wallace’s comments.
Mr Jones, the Tory MP for Clwyd West, to Express.co.uk : “It’s very regrettable that France, an important European country, should resort to attempting to bully the small island population of Jersey.
“However, the French should remember what happened the last time they tried that: the Royal Navy was sent in.”
He added: “They should also not forget that boycotts can operate in both directions.
“The UK is an important market for France, but French wine can easily be replaced by the excellent products of Australia, New Zealand and Chile. French Brie and Camembert can be replaced by our own home-produced cheeses.”
Mr Jones also suggested Mr Macron’s posturing was related to next year’s Presidential elections.
He explained: “The overall impression is that M. Macron, who has lost face over this episode, is primarily concerned about next year’s presidential elections. That’s the real reason for the current hysteria.”
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