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‘War with France’ goes viral after UK sends Royal Navy to Jersey over fishing row

Following a French minister threatening to cut off Jersey’s electricity over access to British fishing zones post-Brexit, the Royal Navy has dispatched two vessels to “monitor” the situation. French fishers are also threatening to blockade ports, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for an “urgent need for de-escalation in tensions”.

Mr Johnson ordered the dispatch of two Royal Navy river-class patrol boats, HMS Severn and HMS Tamar, to protect Jersey from the potential blockade.

The Prime Minister ordered the deployment after a talk on Wednesday with the chief minister of the British crown dependency, John Le Fondré, who had warned Downing Street of imminent movements by French fishing boats to cut off the island’s main port.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “This evening the Prime Minister spoke to the Chief Minister of Jersey and the Minister of External Affairs, Ian Gorst, about the prospect of a blockade of Saint Helier.

“The Prime Minister and Chief Minister stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions and for dialogue between Jersey and France on fishing access.”

READ MORE: Boris sends in Navy as France confronted on Jersey fishing row

But in response to the Royal Navy’s deployment, Twitter users were sent into a frenzy over what could become a ‘war with France’.

Some mocked the suggestion Britain could go to war with France over fishing rights, with one saying: “Once more into the Brie!”

Another posted a picture of a sandcastle and said: “I’m keeping an eye on the Spanish now just in case they’re building an armada on the sly…”

One more said: “What are the rules about going to war with France if they are still on the Red Travel list?

“Can I still use my EHIC card if I get injured on the battlefield?”

Other social media users were furious at Mr Johnson for the Royal Navy deployment.

One said: “Just a polite reminder to the Royal Navy that France is a NATO ally, cheers.“

Another added: “I knew Brexit was supposed to take us back to ‘the old Britain’ but I didn’t think it’d go as far back as war with France.”

Some pointed out the timing of the announcement ahead of Thursday’s elections, and one user added: “As far as last minute political inducements to a party’s voter base, war with France is going to be a tough one to top.”

Another jokingly said the UK was back to the 17th century, saying: “First we have a plague. Now we’re at war with France!”


Jersey, at the centre of Britain and France’s row over fishing, introduced a new licensing system for French fishing boats, which requires them to show a history of fishing in its waters.

Annick Girardin, France’s Seas Minister, said she was “disgusted” to learn that Jersey had issued 41 licences with unilaterally imposed conditions, including the time French fishing vessels could spend in its waters.

Ms Girardin told France’s National Assembly on Tuesday: “In the (Brexit) deal there are retaliatory measures. Well, we’re ready to use them.

“Regarding Jersey, I remind you of the delivery of electricity along underwater cables.

“Even if it would be regrettable if we had to do it, we’ll do it if we have to.”

In response, a UK Government spokesman blasted Ms Girardin for her incendiary comments.

They said: “To threaten Jersey like this is clearly unacceptable and disproportionate.

“We are working closely with the EU and Jersey on fisheries access provisions following the end of the transition period so trust the French will use the mechanisms of our new treaty to solve problems.”

Don Thompson, head of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, also said: “It was inevitable that the French would kick off, but the reaction we’re seeing from France is almost like something you would see from Iran or Russia.

“They’re not just saying they can cut off the electricity supply, French fishermen are saying that they’re coming tomorrow [Thursday] to blockade the harbour in time to stop the ferries from coming in so there’ll be no food supply and no fuel coming into the island either.

“So it comes pretty close to an act of war, this.”

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