Macron BACKS DOWN from deadline for retaliating against UK on fishing

Le grand surrender! Macron BACKS DOWN from midnight deadline he imposed just hours earlier for retaliating against UK over fishing rights row – saying talks would continue on Tuesday

  • The French president has said he will not retaliate against Britain at midnight
  • He instead opted to negotiate further with Britain and will ‘continue tomorrow’
  • Macron previously promised retaliatory measures against Britain over fishing 
  • Downing Street meanwhile is prepared launch action of its own against France
  • It comes as Macron and Boris Johnson are participating together in the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow this week 

French President Emmanuel Macron has backed down from his midnight deadline for retaliation against the UK over the post Brexit fishing rights row.  

Macron confirmed today that will not go ahead with retaliatory measures against Britain, which just hours ago he promised to implement at midnight, instead saying he would resume talks on Tuesday. 

He declared discussions between France, the UK and the European Commission would ‘continue tomorrow’ and ruled out any retaliation against Britain because ‘it’s not while we’re negotiating that we’re going to impose sanctions’.

It comes as both Macron and Boris Johnson are participating side by side in the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow. 

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said earlier today that the government is prepared to launch action of its own against France should Macron go ahead with the threat.  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L), UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron talk at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, Britain, November 1, 2021

A British trawler Cornelis Gert Jan is seen moored in the port of Le Havre, after France seized on Thursday a British trawler fishing in its territorial waters without a licence, in Le Havre, France, October 29, 2021

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (pictured at COP today) rejected the deadline set by the French president of tomorrow for more small boats to be granted licences for UK waters and said Britain is prepared to launch action of its own against France

France alleges Britain is not honouring a post-Brexit deal on access to British fishing grounds, and said yesterday that from midnight (2300 GMT) on Monday it would retaliate by stepping up checks on trucks coming from Britain and barring British trawlers from docking in French ports.

But the UK insisted it would only grant licences to boats which meet the criteria set out in the Brexit deal.

Macron today however backed down on the threat: ‘Since this afternoon, discussions have resumed on the basis of a proposal I made to Prime Minister (Boris) Johnson. 

‘The talks need to continue. We’ll see where we are tomorrow at the end of the day, to see if things have really changed.’ Macron said at the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow.

Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson met briefly today as the French president arrived in Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit, while officials from the two nations were involved in ongoing talks convened by the European Commission in Brussels. 

Downing Street previously said it had ‘robust’ contingency plans in place if Macron had decided to press forward with retaliatory measures.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confirmed the UK would take legal action under the UK-EU Brexit trade deal, while a tit-for-tat retaliation to French action has not been ruled out.

Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Those threats are completely unwarranted. We allocated the fishing licences completely in line with what is in the trade agreement with the EU and the French need to withdraw those threats.

‘Otherwise we will use the dispute resolution mechanism in the EU deal to take action.’

She added: ‘We are simply not going to roll over in the face of these threats.’

The UK has granted licences to 98% of EU vessels which have requested permission to operate in British waters.

But the dispute centres on access for small boats, under 12-metres, wishing to fish in the UK six-to-12-nautical-mile zone.

The government in Paris was angry that the UK originally granted only 12 licences out of 47 bids for smaller vessels, a figure which has now risen to 18.

Only boats which can demonstrate they have fished in UK waters for one day in each of the years between 2012 and 2016 qualify for a licence.

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