Boris Johnson has insisted the UK would not make concessions to France in the row over fishing rights, despite Brexit minister David Frost claiming Britain is open to a “consensual solution” on Thursday.
Meanwhile, president Emmanuel Macron put plans for retaliatory action on hold until further talks take place this week, but French fishermen said it is a “matter of life and death” to solve current problems.
The reason why Macron backtracked on moves to punish the UK is down to hope that Britain would change its position, according to his Europe minister Clement Beaune.
But the Jersey government suggested the French president has in fact put plans on hold because of the island’s willingness to reconsider a few boats it previously rejected.
UK government insists it will not change its position on fishing
Following concessions by Jersey, Downing Street told The Independent it welcomed Macron’s decision to not close French ports to British boats, place stricter checks on lorries and cut electricity supplies to the Channel Islands.
But the government also insisted it would not change its position on fishing permits to French boats post-Brexit.
Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson said at the Cop26 climate change summit that the dispute with France is “vanishingly unimportant” compared to tackling global heating.
And asked whether he would make a more generous offer to France to settle the dispute, he said: “You ask whether the UK has changed its position on the fishing issue. The answer is ‘no’.”
‘A matter of life and death’
Meanwhile, French fishermen told The Independent that being given the correct paperwork to fish in British waters is a “matter of life and death” for those working in the Channel.
One fishermen said he never heard back about his application to fish in Britain’s waters and concluded British ministers are acting in “bad faith”.
Last week, Thierry Breton, a top EU commissioner, also accused the UK of showing “a lot of bad faith” in discussing fishing rights, but said the EU is “used to this game now”.
Earlier this year, another EU official, Andreas Schieder, said “only a partnership in which both sides stick to their commitments has a future”, upon the conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
Previous calls for the UK government to ‘act in good faith’
At the time, the European Parliament condemned UK’s “unilateral actions in breach of the Withdrawal Agreement”.
MEPs called on the UK government to “act in good faith and fully implement the terms of the agreements which it has signed’, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.
They also said the European Parliament will be closely monitoring how the agreement is applied, to ensure its views will be taken into account.
Christophe Hansen, rapporteur for the Committee on International Trade, said in April: “Ratification of the agreement is not a vote of blind confidence in the UK government’s intention to implement our agreements in good faith.
“Rather, it is an EU insurance policy against further unilateral deviations from what was jointly agreed. Parliament will remain vigilant.”