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Johnson says it might actually be France breaching Brexit deal
Dispute

Johnson says it might actually be France breaching Brexit deal

30.10.2021
'We are a bit worried that France may be about to become in breach, or is already in breach'
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the G20 Summit in Rome
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the G20 Summit in Rome
Photo credit: AFP

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that France may already be violating the terms of the post-Brexit trade deal and hinted at retaliation if Paris refuses to back down in a dispute over fishing rights. 

“We are a bit worried that France may be about to become in breach, or is already in breach,” Johnson said to broadcasters at the Colisseum in Rome, saying he would take all actions necessary to defend UK interests. 

“If one of our partners decides to breach the Trade and Cooperation Agreement we struck, then obviously that’s a matter we’ll have to pursue.”

The disagreement centres on access to British fishing waters. France has accused the UK of wrongly denying licenses to its boats, while Britain insists it is fairly upholding the rules of their post-Brexit settlement.

Johnson offered no indication of what the French have done that might constitute a breach of that accord. He’s due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on the margins of the Group of 20 summit in the Italian capital on Sunday. 

It’s the second international summit this year where Johnson and Macron have been embroiled in a dispute over the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union. At the G-7 that Johnson hosted in Cornwall in June, the British leader threatened to suspend UK commitments to control goods shipped to Northern Ireland while his then-foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, called the EU position “offensive.”

Despite the accusation against France, Johnson also sought to look beyond the fishing question, saying that tackling climate change is a far bigger priority in his relationship with Macron and other world leaders.

“The things that unite France and the U.K. are far more important than the things that divide us,” he said. “Emmanuel Macron and I share a common perspective which is that climate change is a disaster for humanity and that we have the tools to tackle it.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.


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