PMQs: Boris Johnson hits out at ‘uncivil’ Ian Blackford

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The Prime Minister is locked in an ongoing dispute with France over post-Brexit fishing licences after British authorities angered Paris with the number of permits handed to French fishermen.

When asked what he will tell French President Emmanuel Macron at the G20, Mr Johnson will emphasise the strength of the “ties that unite us”.

He will say: “[The] ties that unite us, that bind us together, are far stronger than the turbulence that currently exists in the relationship.”

“That is what I will say to Emmanuel, who has been a friend for many years.”

He will add: “And 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.”

When the Prime Minister was questioned whether the UK would back down on fishing licences, he said: “we will do whatever is necessary to ensure UK interests are protected.”

Observers claim that the French President is using the dispute to appear tough ahead of next year’s presidential elections – where Emmanuel Macron is hoping to secure a second term.

On Thursday, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called for an urgent meeting with the French ambassador after “the disappointing and disproportionate threats made against the UK and the Channel Islands.”

If the UK does not grant licences for 55 French vessels, France has pledged to block its ports from next Tuesday and will carry out security checks on British vessels, reinforce controls on lorries to and from the UK.

Earlier this week, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal told reporters measures targeting British fish exports would include “systematic customs and sanitary checks on products brought to France and a ban on landing seafood.”

This means British fishing boats would be banned from French ports, severely disrupting trade.

The Union of French Fishmongers, representing 490 companies, offered backing for Paris’s efforts to enforce the law, but sounded the alarm about banning UK boats from landing their catch and increasing checks on produce.

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It warned against “simplistic and harmful” measures, noting “the national market is partly dependent on British imports” – 83 percent of fish exports out of the UK were sent to France in 2020.

Previously, Secretary of State for France Clement Beaune said France was willing and ready to cut off the British energy supply to Jersey as a punitive measure in the fishing row.

He said: “We defend our interests. We do it nicely, and diplomatically, but when that doesn’t work, we take measures.”

Environment secretary George Eustice told Sky News the UK has issued post-Brexit licences to 1,700 vessels, which includes 750 French fishing boats- equating to 98% of applicants.

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