France has backed immediate threats to ban British vessels from French ports as the two nations continue to quarrel over post-Brexit licenses to fish in British waters.
French President Emmanuel Macron had warned that Paris could block British boats from landing their catches and imposing physical checks on lorries traveling to and from the UK – which had led to fears of long queues on both sides of the Channel, resulting in delayed shipments ahead of Christmas.
But Monday night, Downing Street said it welcomed a message from Paris that it “will not proceed with the implementation of their proposed measures as planned tomorrow”, adding that the UK is “ready” to continue the negotiations.
The statement from a British government spokesman continued: “The United Kingdom has clearly stated its position on these measures in recent days.
“As we have consistently said, we are ready to continue intensive discussions on fishing, including considering any new evidence in support of the remaining license applications.
“We welcome France’s recognition of the need for in – depth discussions to resolve the range of difficulties in the UK – EU relationship. Lord Frost has accepted Clement Beaune’s invitation and looks forward to the discussions in Paris on Thursday.”
Sir. Macron reportedly told reporters COP26 Climate Conference earlier Monday that “discussions have resumed” based on a proposal he made Boris Johnson.
He is said to have said that the British government agreed to return to the French government on Tuesday “with other proposals”.
Officials from the two nations have been involved in negotiations convened by the European Commission in Brussels.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson and Mr Macron met again face to face on Monday after they both arrived in Glasgow.
Earlier Monday, Secretary of State Liz Truss told Sky News that she set a 48-hour deadline for the fisheries conflict with France to be resolved.
After this time, the British government would start taking legal action, Mrs Truss said, cracking down on the French for behaving “unfairly” and making “completely unreasonable” threats.
Shortly after her comments, Downing Street added that it had “robust” contingency plans in place if Mr Macron’s government carried out threats to disrupt trade from midnight.
Last week, French authorities detained a British scallop trawler in the port of Le Havre as new tensions over post-Brexit fishing rights erupted.
The UK has granted licenses to 98% of EU vessels that have requested permission to operate in British waters.
But the dispute is about access for small boats under 12 meters who want to fish in Britain’s six to 12 nautical mile zone.
The Paris government detained the British scallop trawler as it was angry that Britain had initially granted only 12 licenses out of 47 bids for smaller vessels.
A total of 18 permits have now been granted.
Paris had previously said that if the rules were not random at midnight on Tuesday, retaliatory measures would be taken.
JerseyThe government, which is responsible for administering licenses for French vessels to fish in the island’s waters, has since accused France of trying to “bully” the “unprecedented” threat to the island’s energy supply.
And the Crown Dependency called for an end to “baptism” in “political rhetoric” and for “addressing the technical issues”.
Meanwhile, Labour’s shadow business secretary Ed Miliband also expressed his fear that French threats were being made “for domestic policy reasons”.
“I do not like at all the way the French have behaved in this – I actually agree with Liz Truss on this,” he told Sky News at the COP26 summit.