Fishing: Expect 'retaliation' from licence blocks says French minister
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Red Wall Conservatives worried about whether voters will stand by them at the next election are now urging Mr Johnson to capitalise on France’s fishing threats to their advantage. The Prime Minister has seen his popularity plunge in recent months as the vaccine bounce wears off.
A YouGov survey, published on October 25, said just 32 percent of Britons thought he was doing well, while 60 percent thought he was doing badly.
The results are the worst Mr Johnson has faced since he entered Downing Street.
While pollsters still put the Conservative party comfortably ahead of Labour, Tory MPs worry the advantage could slip if they are not careful.
One Red Wall MP told Express.co.uk: “France is being mischievous over fishing.
“If Boris stood up to them it would be incredibly popular with the public.
“We need a Falklands moment.”
They fear voters in northern constituencies only “leant them their vote” to get Brexit done and there is no guarantee they will stick by them at the next election.
They believe escalating tensions over fishing provide the perfect opportunity to take action and have a similar impact to the Falklands War on Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.
France has threatened to block British boats from some ports and tighten checks on vessels travelling between France and the UK unless more licences for UK waters are issued for their fishermen.
President Macron’s government has also warned it could cut off the UK’s electricity supply unless Britain caves to its demands.
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Paris has accused the UK of failing to issue licences as set out in the EU trade agreement.
Britain argues it has issued licences in 98 percent of cases and has always granted access to those who have supplied the correct paperwork.
A similar stand off occurred earlier this year when French fishermen vowed to block access to Jersey’s main port in revenge for a lack of licences.
Mr Johnson was forced to deploy the navy to ensure access to St Helier remained open and supplies could reach those who live there.
“Just look at what happened when we sent the Navy in to protect Jersey,” the Red Wall MP added.
“It was very popular.”
Another MP told Express.co.uk: “The PM’s popularity would skyrocket [if he took action against France].
“It went up massively last time he did so.”
On Friday afternoon, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss summoned the French ambassador to the UK, Catherine Colonna, to demands answers about France’s threats.
Environment Secretary George Eustice did not rule out blocking French vessels in retaliation for the threats made by Paris.
Mr Eustice told BBC Breakfast: “That is completely inflammatory and is the wrong way to go about things.”
Asked how the UK will respond if France does go ahead and block British trawlers, the Cabinet minister said: “Two can play at that game.”
He insisted any British response would be “proportionate”, adding: “It’s always open to us to increase the enforcement we do on French vessels, to board more of them if that’s what they’re doing to our vessels – there are other administrative things we can require of vessels.”
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