Macron blows top: French President claims ‘UK credibility on line’ over Brexit row

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The French President warned Boris Johnson the UK’s stance on post-Brexit fishing rights and on Northern Ireland could ruin its reputation after leaving the EU. It comes as France detained a British trawler off of Normandy and fined another, sparking a diplomatic row between the UK and Paris.

In an interview, Mr Macron said he was sure of “goodwill” on the British side, but warned that other nations were watching closely.

He said: “Make no mistake, it is not just for the Europeans but all of their partners.

“Because when you spend years negotiating a treaty and then a few months later you do the opposite of what was decided on the aspects that suit you the least, it is not a big sign of your credibility.”

The President added he had “never created pointless controversy” with post-Brexit disputes.

However, speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Macron stressed fishing issues were “important” for France and the UK.

He told the outlet: “We are talking about the life of our citizens.”

It comes after a British trawler was seized and taken to the port of Le Havre on Thursday after French authorities said it was operating without a licence.

Mr Macron said there had been “no provocation, no tension” over fishing rights, but added “we need to respect each other and respect the word that has been given”.

On route to Rome for the G20 summit, Mr Johnson attempted to soothe relations between the UK and France after the fishing row.

When asked what he will say to Mr Macron, the Prime Minister said he would remind the French President the “ties that unite us, that bind us together, are far stronger than the turbulence that currently exists in the relationship”.

He added: “What I will also say is that there may be people on either side of the Channel that they think they have an interest in promoting disharmony between the UK and France and creating the impression of disharmony.

“I don’t think Emmanuel shares that perspective.”

Mr Johnson also said he was “puzzled” by France’s threats, adding he would “do whatever is necessary to ensure UK interests”.

Lord David Frost however threatened to retaliate in the escalating row with “practical responses”.

The Brexit minister told the EU’s Brexit negotiator Maroš Šefčovič that if France carried through with “unjustified” threats to disrupt fisheries and hauliers next week the UK would react “accordingly”, in both physical and legal ways.

A spokesman added: “The Government is accordingly considering the possibility, in those circumstances, of launching dispute settlement proceedings under the TCA, and of other practical responses, including implementing rigorous enforcement processes and checks on EU fishing activity in UK territorial waters, within the terms of the TCA.”

Officials in London told the FT they fear the dispute could spiral into a full-blown trade war with France if post-Brexit checks are stepped up at Calais, further disrupting supply chains.

One British diplomat said: “I’m worried that London may not be taking seriously the French threat to choke the flow of freight and let empty shelves put pressure on the British.”

Another added: “I’m not surprised at French action since we have been playing hardball.”

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