As the BBC has reported, “A British trawler was seized by France and another fined during checks off Le Havre on Thursday. French authorities said the detained vessel did not have a licence”. It’s all a bit Pink Panther remake: “Monsieur, do you ‘ave a la-seance for this beurt? Do neut be feunny with me, Monsieur le Capitan, it saz ‘ere zat you ‘ave to ‘ave a la-seance for ze fashing in thees ‘ere watteurs!” Except it’s not being played for laughs.
Not very Ace negotiator “Lord” David Frost was not taking this lying down, and to prove it, he Tweeted while standing up. “It is very disappointing that France has felt it necessary to make threats late this evening against the UK fishing industry and seemingly traders more broadly … We set out our position earlier this evening”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?
“As we have had no formal communication from the French Government on this matter we will be seeking urgent clarification of their plans. We will consider what further action is necessary in that light”. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received … no, no, we’re not declaring war. Not yet, anyhow. But Liz Truss was on the case.
Having earlier demonstrated her grasp of geography by illustrating her claim “We want to attract the best and the brightest to [the UK]” with a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge near San Francisco, CA, she then made a decision. “I have instructed Europe Minister Wendy Morton to summon the French Ambassador to the UK for talks tomorrow to explain the disappointing and disproportionate threats made against the UK and Channel Islands”.
And the right-leaning part of the media rallied to her standard. Gung-ho and all that! This was manifested by amateur gobshite Patrick Christys on Gammon Broadcasting™ News (“Bacon’s News Channel”), who recycled 2003 Iraq War rhetoric with “These garlic wearing, chateau dwelling, cheese eating surrender merchants are really trying it on with fishing … if France really is an ally, with friends like those, who needs enemies”.
But, sad to say, no-one was watching. The real “I shall write to the Times about this” mob arrived with this morning’s papers, the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph in the vanguard. “Johnson summons French ambassador over fish row … Diplomat to be rebuked after British scallop trawler captain is detained for ‘unlicensed’ fishing”.
Free sheet Metro frothed “KICK IN THE SCALLOPS … France seizes UK ship as Macron reignites Brexit Fishing battle”. Boo Macron! The Daily Star agreed: “Fury At Les Pirates … KICKED IN SCALLOPS … UK vessel seized as France warns of ‘combat’”. The Mail went with “Le Showdown … Truss fury at French ‘threats’ after British boat is seized”.
Sadly, Adam Parsons of Sky News brought a dose of reality. “I've spoken to various EU diplomats about [UK - France] fishing spat. All of them have said they'll back France. ‘There's no trust in the British government, so there's no sympathy either,’ said one”. Cue press distraction as cover for another glorious climbdown. No change there, then.
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