Boris and Emmanuel Macron brace for fishing row showdown


Who will blink first? Boris and Emmanuel Macron lock eyes on visit to Trevi Fountain as they prepare for showdown over fishing rights at G20 summit in Rome – after France urged EU to punish UK for Brexit and PM threatened legal action

  • Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron due to have ‘brush by’ talks at G20 summit
  • France and the UK at daggers drawn over permits for fishing in British waters
  • France has urged the EU to take its side while UK is threatening legal action 










Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron locked eyes today as they prepare for a showdown in the increasingly bitter fishing row.

The PM and the French President came face to face as they visited the famous Trevi Fountain with other leaders attending the G20 summit in Rome this morning.

But although the pair grinned at each other, they are expected to have a scratchy meeting later amid the spat.     

Mr Johnson went on the offensive last night as he warned the EU not to side with France, and Brexit minister Lord Frost threatened to take legal action. 

France has threatened border and port sanctions, including increased checks on British vessels, a ‘go-slow’ at customs and increased tariffs on energy bills in Jersey unless more fishing licences are issued by the UK for small French boats by Tuesday.

However, the UK government has insisted it will not back down. 

The PM and the French President came face to face as they visited the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome with other leaders at the G20 summit this morning

The PM and the French President came face to face as they visited the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome with other leaders at the G20 summit this morning

G20 leaders visited the landmark in Rome on the final day of the G20 gathering

G20 leaders visited the landmark in Rome on the final day of the G20 gathering

The leaders seemed to be in a jovial mood as the two-day summit wraps up in Rome - with the action moving to Glasgow for COP26

The leaders seemed to be in a jovial mood as the two-day summit wraps up in Rome – with the action moving to Glasgow for COP26

Mr Macron and Mr Johnson kept each other close as they brace for difficult talks on fishing

Mr Macron and Mr Johnson kept each other close as they brace for difficult talks on fishing

Mr Johnson and Mr Macron shared an awkward fist-bump during an encounter on the first day of the summit yesterday.

Downing Street has stressed that the pair are ‘friends’ – but behind the scenes anger is mounting about the grandstanding behaviour from France, with Mr Macron facing a presidential election in the spring. 

One senior UK official said: ‘The French have made their position abundantly clear. They are not interested in a positive and constructive relationship, but only in trying to show that Brexit was a mistake.’

Another added: ‘From explicit warnings about stopping energy supply to Jersey to public threats about imposing customs controls unless we comply with their demands, this has been a concerted effort to undermine and now breach the terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.’

The has dismissed France’s claim that Britain has not responded to requests to grant more licences is wrong and it has been transparent throughout.

A source said: ‘We’ve been through painstaking discussions on every single French vessel in question, and have acted at all times in accordance with the deal struck with the EU. It’s incredibly disappointing to see France resorting to these threats.’

Emmanuel Macron and Mr Johnson fist bumped despite gearing up for a potential showdown over fisheries

Emmanuel Macron and Mr Johnson fist bumped despite gearing up for a potential showdown over fisheries

France has threatened border and port sanctions, including increased checks on British vessels, a ‘go-slow’ at customs and increased tariffs on energy bills in Jersey, unless more fishing licences are issued by the UK for small French boats by Tuesday. Pictured: French fisherman in the fishing town of Port En Bessin

France has threatened border and port sanctions, including increased checks on British vessels, a ‘go-slow’ at customs and increased tariffs on energy bills in Jersey, unless more fishing licences are issued by the UK for small French boats by Tuesday. Pictured: French fisherman in the fishing town of Port En Bessin

Mr Macron’s attack dog Europe Minister Clement Beaune said that unless the UK made ‘significant’ concession on licences for French fishermen, France would respond with ‘proportionate measures’, potentially including a blockade at French ports. 

Lord Frost yesterday blasted a ‘pattern’ of threats made by France to Britain and said the UK Government is ‘actively considering’ starting legal proceedings against the country.

In a series of tweets, the Conservative peer rallied against comments made by French prime minister Jean Castex in a letter to Ms Von Der Leyen, that the UK should be shown ‘it causes more damage to leave the EU than to stay in’.

Lord Frost said: ‘To see it expressed in this way is clearly very troubling and very problematic in the current context when we are trying to solve many highly sensitive issues, including on the Northern Ireland Protocol.’

Mr Johnson slammed the ‘rhetoric’ coming out of Paris and warned that threats – including a go-slow on goods at Calais and blocking British trawlers from French ports – were ‘completely unjustifiable’ and likely broke international law. 

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