British in French fishermen have a long history of flare ups including the recent clashes over scallops and there appears to be more choppy waters ahead.
France are keen to get access to British waters once the UK finally leaves the EU. Although the political declaration on the “future relationship” between the UK and the EU does no grant them access to British waters President Emmanuel Macron made a threat on Sunday that has rattled a few nerves in Downing Street.
Macron said that the UK could be held in the customs union backstop, that comes into place at the end of the transition period in December 2020 if not free-trade agreement has been made, if France does not get access to British waters after Brexit.
On Monday a spokesman for Theresa May told the media that it would take France to independent arbitration if it refused to negotiate openly on the issue of fisheries.
“If the UK enters into the backstop we will be outside of the common fisheries policy and full control over whether French fishermen could enter our waters,” the spokesmen said according to the Guardian.
“Secondly if the EU were not willing to engage in a genuine negotiation to replace the backstop with the future relationship or alternative arrangements, for example if it had closed its mind from the outset to the UK position on fisheries, that would put in breach of its duty of good faith under the agreement and we can refer this to independent arbitration,” the spokesman added.
Bu France's minister of agriculture Didier Guillaume said on Monday that the French government will be “totally mobilized” to protect the livelihoods of French fishermen.