‘War With France’: The Most OTT Reactions To The Jersey Brexit Row

Pirates and muskets, as Boris Johnson sent gunboats to the Channel island.

Brexit is turning nasty, with gunboats deployed to Jersey as French fishermen attempted to blockade the Channel island’s St Helier port in a row over fishing rights.

The dispute erupted after the Jersey government said French boats would be required to demonstrate a history of fishing in the island’s waters to obtain a license to continue doing so.

Jersey argued that it had to impose the measures under terms of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU that came into force last week.

But it caused anger in French fishing communities, which complained boats which had operated there for years were suddenly having their access to the fisheries restricted after 17 vessels were not given licenses.

The French government also poured fuel on the fire this week, threatening to cut off Jersey’s electricity supply unless it dropped its demands.

Thankfully now, the drama appears to be calming down with French boats leaving St Helier, and Jersey officials reportedly entering talks with the fishermen to try and find a compromise.

But despite calls for calm, Johnson’s decision to send Navy patrol boats to the area has got a lot of people very excited indeed.

Here are some of the most over-the-top reactions:

‘War with France’

French officials did not waste long in picking up the baton, long held by British Leavers, of comparing a Brexit row to war.

David Sellam, head of the Normandy-Brittany sea authority, even went one step further, suggesting the Jersey dispute could even turn into a 21st Century armed conflict.

“We’re ready for war,” he said. “We can bring Jersey to its knees if necessary.”

MailOnline meanwhile quoted a French fishing boat captain involved in the quarrelling, Jean-Claude La Vaullée, who said: “I’ve refuelled the boat - we’re ready to re-stage the Battle of Trafalgar.”

It even led to outlandish suggestions that Brexit could lead to a full-scale war between the UK and EU.

In case it needed underlining, the UK and France are both Nato members, and war between the two is incredibly unlikely.

French MEP Stphanie Yon-Courtin has reportedly attempted to calm the situation, saying: “These are only words - we are not ready for war.”

Muskets at dawn

Undeterred, one bold member of the Jersey Militia reenactment was seen on Thursday morning donning a tricorn hat and apparently firing a musket at the protesting French flotilla.

We’re guessing (hoping?) it wasn’t a live weapon.


French sea minister and "pirate soul" Annick Girardin
French sea minister and "pirate soul" Annick Girardin
SAMEER AL-DOUMY via Getty Images

Meanwhile, UK newspapers seized on the fact that Annick Girardin, the French minister who threatened to cut off Jersey’s electricity, once described herself as having a “pirate soul”.

The minister of the sea grew up in a seafaring family and was also once the subject of a documentary which dubbed her the “pirate of hope”.

Explains everything.

Ill-judged Nazi comparisons

Inevitably, Godwin’s law was invoked at one point as a UK government source compared the situation to the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands in the Second World War.

“At least when the Germans invaded they kept the lights on,” the source told the Telegraph.

It was perhaps not the wisest comparison to make given the appalling suffering the Nazis inflicted on Channel islanders, including the deportation of Jews to concentration camps in Europe.

Birkbeck University lecturer Ben Gidley described the quote as “shocking” given the history.

‘Small dick energy’

French president Emmanuel Macron
French president Emmanuel Macron
LUDOVIC MARIN via Getty Images

UK government sources were hard at work on Wednesday night it seems, with one official suggesting to Politico’s London Playbook that French president Emmanuel Macron’s “small dick energy” might be to blame.

Calm diplomacy indeed.

Top trumps

The French authorities responded to Johnson’s deployment of HMS Severn and HMS Tavern to Jersey by deciding to send their own police patrol boats.

Perhaps seizing on the comments the government official gave to Playbook, the Daily Mail pointed out that one of the French ships was “less than HALF” the size of the two Royal Navy boats.

The newspaper even drew up a fact file allowing readers to compare the vessels’ top speeds, armaments and crew sizes.

Given that indoor socialising is still banned and it’s raining a lot at the moment, maybe Brexit fishing row top trumps could actually take off.


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