‘Brussels to help!’ Jersey minister urges EU to stop France power cut threat

Clément Beaune warns of reduced energy supply to Jersey

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The French are threatening to prevent Christmas supplies making it to ports across the UK because of the debate over fishing rights in British waters. The EU Commission has told the French government to reduce threats to cut off the UK’s power supplies and block ports over fishing rights.

In September, the UK government said it had approved only 12 of the 47 applications from the French small boats to work in waters surrounding the UK.

The French have also threatened to cut the power supplies to the entire UK mainland and Jersey.

Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, told The i: “I think realistically they wouldn’t be seeking to turn the power off, but there might be a number of other measures around port access and tariffs that they could seek to introduce.

“But, if they did that, then they would be in breach of the Brexit trade agreement and that would be for Brussels to help us solve.”

The Senator added Jersey would look to the UK government for further help if the French conducted their threats.

He said: “Then we would, with the full support of the UK Government, ask the European Commission to intervene.

“Let me be absolutely clear, we wouldn’t wish to reciprocate, and we want to abide at all times by the terms of the trade deal. We say that the French should do exactly the same.”

Fishing rights have been a contentious part of the post-Brexit negotiations between UK and France as bilateral ties have been weakened by issues including channel migrant crossings and submarines.

 

Earlier in the year French trawlers introduced a blockade around Jersey in St Helier and prevented fishing fleets from entering Normandy ports.

French fishermen complained about being stopped from operating in British waters because of difficulties gaining licenses.

The Ministry of Defence sent HMS Severn and HMS Tamar to Jersey in a bid to prevent French fishing boats from blockading local trawlers.

Ministers in Jersey are concerned another French blockade could happen again, especially as Jersey depends on EDF, the French Energy supplier for its electricity supply.

READ MORE: French top diplomat slams Brexit Britain for using EU as ‘scapegoat’

However, in the event of an outage there is an old generator which could provide a temporary fix.

The comments come after French Fishermen threatened to block Calais and the Channel Tunnel rail link on Wednesday as part of a plan to block Christmas supplies to the UK, if London does not offer more fishing licenses.

Chairman of the northern France fisheries committee Olivier Lepretre said: “The British have got two weeks to react and then we will go on the attack.”

Jean-Pierre Pont, member of Parliament for President Macron’s LREM party, previously said: “Since the British are refusing to honour what they signed, as with other Anglo-Saxons in another area, the French fishermen of Boulogne-sur-Mer may be obliged, after nine months of useless patience, to envisage ways to retaliate against the UK – for example by blocking ports or the entry of lorries towards the UK through the tunnel.”

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However, the UK’s Brexit minister speaking at the Conservative Party conference rejected French claims the UK was breaching the Brexit trade deal.

Lord Frost insisted 98% of EU applications to fish in British waters had already been granted, and said the UK had been “extremely generous”.

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