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French fishermen threaten Calais and Channel Tunnel blockade in Brexit retaliation

© Thomas Millot

An escalating row between the UK and France over fishing has led to a new threat in the form of a total port blockade of Calais.

With Britain reliant on imports from Europe ahead of the Christmas season, and an ongoing spat in regards to fishing rights and access, French fisherman have issued a new ultimatum to put pressure on the government to allow more boats into the UK’s waters.

France has also taken a tougher line against the UK in recent days, calling on the EU to take more stringent measures if it doesn’t grant more access. The rhetoric comes as negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol continue without a resolution, with Britain hinting it will trigger Article 16 before the end of the month to rollback the Brexit agreement. So far, there’s been no improvement in the standoff.

And in a further sign of strain between Britain and France, late Wednesday, a government insider leaked to The Sun that Emmanuel Macron had allegedly worked with EU chiefs to divert 5 million AstraZeneca vaccines destined for Britain at the height of the pandemic. The batch was redirected from Holland with EU support at “the eleventh hour” according to the government source.

As Britain continues to adjust to its post-Brexit status outside the EU, France has made numerous threats on trade and energy supplies in recent days, with bilateral deals now also at risk.

The question remains, what will be the outcome of the latest war of words?