We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.
John Balls, chairman of North Devon Fishermen’s Association, said the French will not take a compromise lying down and predicted widespread disruption to the movement of goods and people on both sides of the Channel. On Friday the seventh round of post-Brexit trade talks in Brussels wrapped up, with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying he was “disappointed” with the lack of progress.
Mr Barnier claimed the UK had shown “no willingness” to compromise on key issues while the UK’s negotiator David Frost admitted the talks had resulted in “little progress”.
With no deal in sight four months before the Brexit transition period is due to end on December 31, Mr Balls said Britons should be prepared for a blockade of French ports, including Calais.
He said if a deal is struck it would inevitably mean a massive setback for French fishermen, who hold 84 percent of quota for cod in the Channel while the UK holds just nine percent.
But if the UK and the EU fail to find common ground and divert to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, fishermen across the waters would be equally annoyed by the prospect of having their access taken away, he said.
Mr Balls told Express.co.uk: “We’ve seen it before with the French, they will blockade the ports and they will hold up lorries on the UK side.
“The M20 on the approach to Dover will end up as a car park.
“It’s always the French who blockade the ports.
“That will happen. That is something that the French are very good at.
“They’ll blockade not just the shellfish or finfish being moved around, they will blockade and that will stop everything being moved from flowers to meat to vegetables. All perishable goods plus people as well.”
He said it would not advise Britons to plan a trip via Dover or Calais in the first weeks of 2021 due to the “mad marauding fishermen” who will be keen to send a strong message of protest to the UK.
He continued: “They know they’re not going to get what they want.
“If there was a compromise it still wouldn’t be good enough for them.
Barnier blows top at Brexit stalemate – Frost stands firm on fishing [INSIGHT]
‘Future of UK hangs in balance – THIS is what Boris must do’ [COMMENT]
Brexit LIVE: Frost leads 50 Brexiteers into fishing showdown [BLOG]
“They want to have their cake and eat it.
“They know that they hold the volume of quota for the Channel fish and they are not going to want to reduce that 84 percent which they hold.
“There will be an upset. The French fishermen always have their little day in court.”
Mr Balls has held weekly meetings with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to discuss the concerns of fishermen in north Devon.
He said shellfish suppliers in the region would continue to see a high demand for their product in the European market in the years to come.
He warned of the devastating consequences for the UK fishing industry if their live and perishable goods are kept sitting in lorries at ports due to action by the French.
Mr Balls said it was the responsibility of the UK and French governments to make sure any disruption is minimal.
He added: “We’ve got to have that access into Europe and also Europe has to have access to us.
“We can’t go down the road of having a tit-for-tat and having stupid volumes of levies put on the movement of a product. It’s not going to do anyone any good.
“We know the French, Spanish and Portuguese customers want the product which they have been used to for the last 20-30 years.
“So there’s a lot of support for the UK product and what the French fishermen are concerned with is basically is being pushed out of the waters where they’ve been fishing.”
Source: Read Full Article