Tally Ho, Lads! British Militiaman Fires Musket as French Blockade Boats Arrive

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 9: A colonial reenactor repairs his musket before the reenactment of the siege of Fort Mifflin November 9, 2002 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event was held to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the Revolutionary War battle. The British army fought the Colonials for control of the fort …
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French anger around the British reclaiming their territorial waters post-Brexit and the British response to it took a bizarre turn as a tricorn-wearing re-enactor was seen firing a flintlock musket as French fishermen prepared to blockade a British port.

Upwards of 60 French fishing boats and other craft had sailed to the Crown Dependency of Jersey, a largely self-governing island owned by the British crown but just 15 miles off the French coast. It is believed the ships were preparing to blockade the island’s main harbour, and London has dispatched two small Royal Navy warships to keep the peace.

A blockadewould not have been unusual behaviour for French fishermen, who by modern Western European standards are extremely militant and jealously guard their own interests, not infrequently with violence. Blockades of ports and ramming attacks on rivals are not unheard of — with clashes frequently seeing maritime signalling flares used as improvised guns — so that the French fishermen should react poorly to the Channel Islanders introducing new post-Brexit fishing rules was not unexpected.

More unusual, perhaps, was the scene caputred by a UK ITV television crew at Elizabeth Castle on Jersey of a man incongruously wearing both a modern hi-visibility jacket and an 18th-century tricorne hat load a flintlock musket before firing it out to sea, aiming high. The network said the “blank-firing musket” was discharged “in an act of defiance” against the French.

Staff at Jersey’s historic Elizabeth Castle wear a similar yellow-fringed tricorn while in costume for the 1791-era Jersey Militia to give demonstrations of historic warfare, including loading and firing one of the castle’s cannon.

French fishermen sought to blockade Jersey because the self-governing Island is introducing new rules for fishermen wishing to access its waters in the post-Brexit era. To maintain the status quo, the island will only allow boats which have a historical connection to the area to fish its waters, a new requirement French fishermen find unacceptable and claim is a breach of the UK-EU Brexit deal.

The French government has also taken up the cause of its fishermen, threatening to turn off the electricity supply to Jersey, which given its proximity to France receives most of its power by submarine cable. Brexit leader Nigel Farage noted the bitter reprisals against the British for forging their own path calls into question to what extent the United Kingdom’s former EU partners were really friends in the first place, remarking: “If the French are prepared to behave like this then thank God we left [the EU].”

During Britain’s membership of the bloc, the country’s rich fisheries were allocated largely to foreign boats by Brussels, which controls most national stocks as a so-called “common resource”.

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