Sylvie Bermann has shut down Clement Beaune’s threat to cut off UK’s energy supply, saying “it will not get us anywhere”. She also warned that the fishing row will dismantle the “entente cordiale” between France and the UK. The French European Affairs Minister said that the French fishermen must not pay for the failure of Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, host Katie Razzal asked the former French ambassador: “Your EU affairs minister is really threatening to cut off Britain’s energy supply. He said ‘we defend our interests, we do it nicely and diplomatically but when that doesn’t work, we take measures’.
“‘The Channel Islands and the UK are dependent for us on their energy supply. They think they can live on their own and bad mouth Europe as well’.
“I mean do you think that that is likely, or is that just really hot air?
Ms Bermann said: “Well, it’s a stretch of course. It’s not impossible legally.”
The host interjected: “But do you think it’s constructive? Does it get anywhere?”
Ms Bermann replied: “No, I don’t think it will get us anywhere. I think the best thing would be to have an agreement, and not to have this rift between ourselves.
“I think the situation will be tense. And it’s because there are a lot of difficulties and probably there will be other crises.
“Maybe that’s not the best way to solve those crises and understand that you consider it an excessive threat.
“But, well, we are negotiating I think.”
Ms Razzall asked: “Do you put this in the camp of a diplomatic row or something much more serious and unrectifiable?”
Ms Bermann answered: “I think it’s more profound and it’s worse than in 2003 and worse than before.
“Because afterwards there was a reconciliation for the time being.
“I think it’s because it’s due to Brexit and what we consider non-implementation of agreements and also we consider there is loss of trust so it’s going to be very difficult to repair and go back to some form of Entente Cordiale even if I wish it.”
Mr Beaune told BFM this morning: “They failed on Brexit. It was a bad choice. Threatening us, threatening our fishermen, will not settle their supply of turkey at Christmas.
“We will hold firm. The Brits need us to sell their products.”
Paris has been furious with London’s refusal to grant sufficient licences to French fishing boats to operate in Britain’s territorial waters and is threatening retaliatory measures.