Brexit leader Nigel Farage has criticised the French government for threatening to cut off electricity to Jersey island over a fishing rights dispute, remarking that “if the French are prepared to behave like this then thank God we left” the European Union.
Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands in the English Channel and, while geographically closer to France, is a British Crown Dependency. Around 95 per cent of Jersey’s electricity is carried by underwater cables from France, with the remaining covered by diesel generators on the island.
On Tuesday, French Minister for Maritime Affairs Annick Girardin accused Britain of imposing conditions on French fishermen, limiting activity off of the coast of Jersey, in contravention of the post-Brexit trade deal agreed between London and Brussels, the notional capital of the European Union.
Addressing the National Assembly, France’s lower house of parliament, Ms Girardin said that there could be “retaliatory measures” against Jersey, specifically mentioning “the transmission of electricity by submarine cable”, according to Normandy newspaper La Presse de la Manche published on the actu.fr news platform.
Girardin said: “I denounced this situation to the European Commission [the EU’s executive arm]. These new conditions are null and void. I will remain adamant. There are retaliatory measures provided for in this agreement, and we are prepared to use them. Europe, France, has the means.”
She then said in reference to the UK-EU trade deal signed on Christmas Eve: “With regards to Jersey, there is the transmission of electricity by submarine cable. We will cut the power if necessary! We will not give up, and we will ensure that the agreement and only the agreement of last December are respected.”
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The Europeans have already been given a five-and-a-half-year “adjustment period” by which they can continue to fish in British waters.
According to Sky News, the French claim that the UK is using red tape to limit fishing off of the Jersey coast and that on Friday, 41 fishing boats were allowed to work in the region but were subjected to limits on the duration, locations, and what machinery could be used.
A spokesman for the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told The Guardian: “We are clear that Jersey is responsible for its own territorial waters. The UK government is constitutionally responsible for the international relations of the crown dependencies. As such, we have been working closely with the EU and the government of Jersey on fisheries access provisions following the end of the transition period for licensing.”
Jersey hit back at the threats, with the island’s External Relations Minister Ian Gorst telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, according to The Times: “This is not the first threat that the French have made to either Jersey or the United Kingdom since we are into this new deal. It would seem disproportionate to cut off electricity for the sake of needing to provide extra details so that we can refine the licences.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 29, 2021
In response, Brexit leader Nigel Farage said: “If the French are prepared to behave like this then thank God we left.”
It is not the first time that Farage has noted how vengeful the Europeans became post-Brexit, notably the threats from the EU during the bloc’s vaccine fiasco.
When the EU was struggling to get its vaccine programme in functional order and was falling behind the UK, the European Commission had threatened in January to block exports of vaccines produced under British contract.
Farage said that how the situation was unfolding was evidence that “Brexit was the right thing to do”.
“All of this tells us everything we need to know about the European Union: nasty, vindictive, and very nationalistic,” he said.
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 21, 2021