A “go-slow” strategy for customs checks coming in and out of the UK before Christmas is reportedly being prepared by France as the row over fishing rights after Brexit escalates.
France will finalise a set of potential sanctions on Tuesday which could be rolled out if its fishermen are not given greater access to UK waters.
Fury was sparked after the government in London announced last month that it had approved just 12 of the 47 applications it had received from French small boats. Paris called the move “unacceptable”.
Fishing industry representatives in France have since threatened to block the port of Calais and stop exports to the UK in the run-up to Christmas if they are not granted more permits to fish off Britain’s coast.
Now, the Telegraph reports one of the main concerns for UK officials is the country deliberately disputing trade across the Channel.
It said France could order custom officials to cause backlogs by conducting more checks on shipments to and from Britain and hit companies with new surcharges for tougher controls at the border.
The government in Paris has previously suggested that Britain’s imported energy supply could be disrupted in retaliation for a lack of access to UK waters.
Annick Girardin, France’s maritime minister, has told French fishermen that she “won’t give up” as the country’s prime minister Jean Castex prepares to warn negotiators they have until midnight on Friday to resolve the fishing row.
The potential sanctions which will be unveiled on Tuesday could be rolled out as early as 1 November.
Ms Girardin said: “We are one week away from the deadline set by France for answers from the UK. I want to give clear visibility to the fishermen and remind them the French government is by their side. I want my licences back.”
France has asked its European Union partners to act as one in the dispute, urging the 27-nation bloc to prepare retaliation measures.
Earlier this month, France and 10 other EU nations issued a joint declaration denouncing UK’s attitude over fishing licenses.
The cross-Channel tensions over fishing have been long-running, with earlier rows leading to Navy ships being scrambled to Jersey amid concerns of a blockade of the island.
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