The UK has said it will retaliate in “an appropriate and calibrated” manner if France follows through with its threats to impose sanctions amid a dispute over fishing licences.
Downing Street responded angrily to a warning from the French government that it could ban British seafood imports and could even cut the supply of energy to the Channel Islands.
Paris also suggested it would block British boats from certain ports, unless the UK released more fishing permits by Tuesday.
Emmanuel Macron’s government has been angered by what it perceives to be the limited number of licences given to French fishermen to operate in the UK’s waters, including those around the island of Jersey, which is a British Crown Dependency.
Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, said it was “disappointing” that France had decided to make such threats.
“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,” the prime minister’s former lead Brexit negotiator said.
A government spokesperson called France’s threats “disappointing and disproportionate”, claiming they went against the Brexit agreement as well as international law.
The UK has approved 98 per cent of licence applications from EU vessels, they added.
However, France government spokesperson Gabriel Attal said that France has only half “of the licences to which we have the right”, according to The Times. The UK says the permits require proof that French vessels fished in British waters prior to Brexit.
“Our patience is reaching its limits,” Mr Attal told Reuters, adding the French government will not allow Britain to “wipe its shoes on the Brexit deal”.
France is drawing up a list of potential sanctions against the UK, which could be published on Thursday, according to Mr Attal.
The country’s ultimatum against Britain comes after ten other EU countries united with France two weeks ago to condemn Boris Johnson’s approach to post-Brexit fishing rights.