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Britain has begun sending two navy patrol boats to Jersey after France suggested it could cut power supplies to the Channel island if its fishermen are not granted full access to UK fishing waters under post-Brexit trading terms.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday promised his ‘unwavering support‘ for the island after he discussed the prospect of a French blockade with Jersey officials.
A spokesperson for Johnson said; ‘Johnson stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions,’
‘As a precautionary measure, the UK will be sending two Offshore Patrol Vessels to monitor the situation.’
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Paris and London have increasingly clashed over-fishing in recent weeks, as French fishermen say they are being prevented from operating in British waters because of difficulties in obtaining licences.
On Tuesday, France warned it was weighing its response after the UK imposed rules governing access for French fishing boats near the Channel Islands and said it could involve the electricity supply via underwater cables.
French fishermen also plan to converge on the island’s main port St Helier on Thursday, although authorities have said they do not intend to block access to it.
Earlier, France’s Seas Minister Annick Girardin said she was ‘disgusted’ to learn that Jersey had issued 41 licences with unilaterally imposed conditions, including the time French fishing vessels could spend in its waters.
‘In the (Brexit) deal there are retaliatory measures. Well, we’re ready to use them,’ Girardin told France’s National Assembly on Tuesday.
‘Regarding Jersey, I remind you of the delivery of electricity along with underwater cables … Even if it would be regrettable if we had to do it, we’ll do it if we have to.’
Jersey, a British crown dependence, has a population of 108,000 and imports 95 percent of its electricity from France, with diesel generators and gas turbines providing backup, according to energy news agency S&P Global Platts.
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK