French fishermen vow to blockade Britain within days and disrupt Christmas supplies in row over access to our waters
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FRENCH fishermen have vowed to blockade Calais and cut off Christmas supplies to Britain within a fortnight in a row over access to our waters.
They’re threatening to cause shipping chaos in the run up to the festive period in an attempt to blackmail Boris Johnson over licences.
Skippers in the major port of Boulogne say they’ll block lorries and trains heading across the Channel unless they’re allowed back into UK seas.
Any protests would heap further pressure on Britain’s battered supply chains and jeopardise the supply of goods to supermarket shelves.
Furious trawler men are threatening to keep their action going all the way until Christmas to force the PM into a surrender.
Powerful fishing baron Olivier Lepretre said: “The British have got two weeks to react and then we will go on the attack.
“In the absence of any results, the blocking of the port of Calais and exports to the UK for the period leading up to Christmas is an option.”
Christophe Lomel, a skipper based in Boulogne, said he’s been turned down by the UK for a licence despite fishing in our waters for decades.
He fumed: “It is illogical. Licences have been given to boats which hardly ever go to British waters.
“I have been going there for 35 years and I have not got my license.”
Luc Ramet, captain of the Charles-de-Foucauld, said he’ll support action in a fortnight to make No 10 “fold” on the issue.
He said: “My boat is new and with a new registration. It is for this reason that the British are refusing me the license”.
Ex Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith insisted the PM should stand firm against moaning French fishermen.
He said: “The French are heading for an election, they’ve got a French president who’s not doing very well in the polls.
“Any chance to pull the tail of the lion will be taken with glee. A lot of this stuff is engineered as part of ‘we’re standing up to perfidious Albion’.
“The truth is there’s no reason why we should back down. We negotiated something, hard luck.
“If the French don’t like it they should go and kick the backside of the EU negotiators. The UK has got to protect our fishermen.”
Many other EU capitals are also rolling their eyes at Paris’ sabre-rattling, which they put down to Emmanuel Macron’s re-election campaign.
Yesterday it emerged Mr Lepretre, who is spearheading the calls for a blockade, once praised the Brexit deal as “win-win”.
His calls come less than a year after he was full of praise for the fishing pact saying it would not be the “death knell” for french fishermen.
After the PM signed his historic deal the militant fish man said: “It’s a huge relief for fishermen — It’s a win-win deal.”
He added: “We’re going to lose some of our quotas, which is annoying but it’s not a death knell.”
But now he says they feel deceived, and will block goods heading to Britain’s shores.
French fury erupted after their trawlers were handed just 12 of the 47 requests for fishing permits.
British officials say those denied were unable to prove that they had fished in the six to-12 mile nautical zone in the years before the UK left the EU.
The row over Channel fishing rights erupted in May, when Britain sent two Royal Navy gunships to Jersey after dozens of French fishing boats vowed to blockade the island’s harbour.
Yesterday Deputy PM Dominic Raab said the UK will be “calm but resolute” in the row.
He said: “Of course, what the French need to adjust to is the new reality as we have left the EU, we have got a free trade deal – it includes scope on fishing but they can’t expect to have the kind of quotas they had previously, unlimited access.”
The French have also threatened to cut energy supplies to Jersey, which gets 95 per cent of its electricity supply from France.
And just under half of the UK’s electricity imports, as of 2020, comes from undersea cables from across the Channel.