Liz Truss Gives France 48 Hours To Settle Fishing Dispute Before The UK 'Takes Action'

"We are simply not going to roll over in the face of these threats," the foreign secretary said.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss speaking to Sky News
Foreign secretary Liz Truss speaking to Sky News
Twitter @SkyNews

Liz Truss issued a stark warning to France on Monday by claiming the country has 48 hours to resolve its fishing dispute with the UK before Britain “takes action”.

The foreign secretary was commenting on the stalemate between the UK and its European neighbour over permits for French boats to fish in British waters.

Paris has threatened to block port access or disrupt the energy supply going to the Channel Islands unless Britain grants more permits to French boats. A British trawler was also seized by France and another fined last week.

Prime minister Boris Johnson and French president Emmanuel Macron discussed the issue on Sunday but were unable to reach an agreement.

Truss told Sky News: “The French have made completely unreasonable threats including to the Channel Islands and to our fishing industry and they need to withdraw those threats.”

Interviewer Kay Burley probed: “Or else?”

Truss added: “Or else we will use the mechanisms of our trade agreement to take action.

″What that means is we will use the dispute resolution mechanism which could lead to taking direct action in trade.”

Truss also claimed, “the French have behaved unfairly, and it’s not within the terms of the trade deal”, pointing out that the UK is entitled to seek some compensatory measures as set out in the Brexit trade agreement with the EU.

“And that is what we will do if the French don’t back down,” she added.

Truss claimed that it is “entirely within our rights to allocate the fishing licenses” in line with the trade agreement.

When pressed over how long the UK will take to act, the foreign secretary said: “This issue needs to be resolved within the next 48 hours.”

She said the UK would “absolutely” look at legal action if it is not resolved in that time.

Truss did adopt a more conciliatory tone at one point, and said: “What I would say to the French is that we are fellow freedom-loving democracies. We should not be fighting with each other, we should be focusing our efforts on working together.”

She said it would be mutually beneficial for the UK and France to work together, so they should move beyond these “unreasonable threats”.

But the foreign secretary went back on the offensive in a later interview when she told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme: “We are simply not going to roll over in the face of these threats.”

She said these threats were “not the kind of rhetoric we expect to see from a close friend and ally like France”.

Truss did confirm that the UK is “looking at all the evidence” surrounding France’s accusations, but “we simply cannot have a situation where we are threatened like that”.

There are fears the dispute will even overshadow the UN’s pivotal climate summit, COP26, which started on Monday.

Truss told reporters that securing those crucial climate pledges from other countries were already going to be “touch and go”.

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