Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,' says Paris as British trawler detained

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Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Sean Boyce seized trawler.jpg

LIVE – Updated at 11:04

France’s maritime minister has said her country’s dispute with Britain over post-Brexit fishing rights is “not a war, but a fight”.

Speaking to French radio station RTL, Annick Girardin accused the UK of failing to “respect [its] own signature”, referring to the EU Withdrawal Agreement, and branded it “unacceptable”.

It comes after reports surfaced that a British scallop trawler, owned by Scottish firm Macduff Shellfish, had been detained by French officials and another given a verbal warning for operating in its waters without a license, the French government said.

The two English ships were fined during checks off Le Havre, a port in France’s Normandy region.

However, the director of Macduff said the vessel’s activity was “entirely legal” and claimed his ship was merely being used as a “pawn” in the disagreement between France and Britain.

Follow our live coverage below

Key points

  • France claims it’s ‘not at war, but in a fight’ with UK over fishing rights…
  • …as director of detained boat’s company says ‘activity entirely legal’
  • SNP granted urgent Commons question on UK-France fishing dispute
  • Sunak laughs off question about Brexit damage: ‘It was five years ago’
  • Chancellor swerves question on his own NI tax contribution
  • Brexit ‘worse for UK economy than Covid,’ warns OBR

Patel brands French decision to detain UK boat ‘disappointing’

11:04 , Sam Hancock

Another minister, not currently in the House of Commons, has also described the British ship’s detention as “disappointing”.

When asked if she was concerned about the latest action in the dispute about fishing rights and whether she had spoken with her French counterpart, she said: “It is disappointing, and we as a country fulfilled all our obligations under the TCA.

“But at the same time, discussions across government will continue, both at commission level but also with counterparts within the French administration.”

France ‘breaking international law’ with threats, says Eustice

10:58 , Sam Hancock

Eustice suggests France’s threats to block British boats from French ports and tighten checks could breach international law.

THe UK would deliver an “appropriate and calibrated response” should France follow through with the measures, he said in the Commons.

MPs heard the UK has licensed 98 per cent of EU vessels that have applied for access post-Brexit, and more are expected to be granted following “constructive” talks with the European Commission.

Mr Eustice said he had told the French and the Commission that the UK’s “door remains ever open”.

But, he added: “In that context it is very disappointing to see the comments that came from France yesterday. We believe these are disappointing and disproportionate, and not what we’d expect from a close ally and partner.”

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent Environment secretary George Eustice (PA)

Government ‘investigating circumstances’ around detained boat

10:55 , Sam Hancock

The urgent Commons question on the French fishing row is currently taking place, with environment secretary George Eustice kicking off proceedings.

He says he has asked officials to urgently investigate the situation surrounding the Scottish vessel being detained in France, saying it’s “too early” to say precisely what has happened.

Shadow environment secretary Luke Pollard had asked what was being done to establish “the … very troubling facts”.

The Labour MP also asked if an external waters licence has been issued “to the Scottish scalloper currently detained in Le Havre, as its name does not appear on the MMO website. Is that an oversight?”

Mr Eustice said: “It is too early to be able to identify precisely what happened. But I have seen reports that it was on a list originally and then appeared not to be on a list. But it is something that I’ve asked our officials to urgently investigate.”

France claims it is ‘not at war, but in a fight’ with Britain

10:42 , Sam Hancock

France’s maritime minister has said her country’s dispute with Britain over post-Brexit fishing rights is “not a war, but a fight”.

Speaking to French radio station RTL, Annick Girardin accused the UK of failing to “respect [its] own signature”, referring to the EU Withdrawal Agreement, and branded it “unacceptable”.

RTL asked Ms Girardin if Britain was “not respecting their commitments?”, to which she replied:

“To put it simply, for nine months now … there have been fishermen who cannot go to British waters, where they had licenses before. The agreement preserved these licenses. We had to give them licenses from the moment they demonstrate that they were present in these waters before the agreement.”

Continuing, she added: “The European Commission must work harder to ensure that the United Kingdom meets its commitments. This is why France has taken a number of steps, with Clément Beaune regularly in Brussels, Luxembourg, and [working] with 11 other fishing countries.”

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent French minister of the sea Annick Girardin (Wikimedia Commons)

‘Our fishing activity is entirely legal,’ says director of detained boat’s company

10:10 , Sam Hancock

The director of the company whose boat has been detained by French officials has said his vessel is being used as a “pawn in an ongoing dispute” between the two countries.

Andrew Brown, director of Macduff Shellfish, told Sky News in an interview:

“On 27 October, Macduff’s scallop vessel Cornelis was boarded by the French authorities and ordered into the French port of Le Harve while legally fishing for scallop in French waters.

“Access to French waters for the UK scallop fleet is provided under Brexit Fisheries Agreement. Macduff’s fishing activity is entirely legal.

“It appears our vessel is another pawn in the ongoing dispute between the UK and France on the implementation of the Brexit Fishing Agreement.

“We are looking to the UK government to defend the rights of the UK fishing fleet and ensure that the fishing rights provided under the Brexit Fishing agreement are fully respected by the EU.

“We will vigorously defend ourselves against any vexatious claims.”

SNP granted urgent Commons question on UK-France fishing row

09:44 , Sam Hancock

Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons speaker, has granted an urgent question on the fishing dispute, after France said it had detained a British boat due to it not having the proper license.

The question will be asked by the SNP’s environment, food and rural affairs spokeswoman, Deidre Brock, and is expected from 10.30am.

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent SNP MP Deidre Brock (Wikimedia Commons)

Sunak laughs off question about Brexit damage: ‘It was five years ago’

09:23 , Sam Hancock

Rishi Sunak has laughed off warnings from his own budget watchdog that Brexit is damaging the British economy, after bizarrely claiming Britain’s departure from the EU was “five years ago” and said the government was capitalising on benefits of the UK departure – despite evidence to the contrary.

The UK left the EU at the end of January last year, with a transition period keeping the economic situation unchanged until 1 January this year, reports our policy correspondent Jon Stone. As a result the economic effects of the UK’s departure have hit this year.

But, asked during a radio interview about the negative impact of his government’s policy on living standards, Mr Sunak laughed, and said: “I think we’ve had all these debates multiple times, and I think this at this point now is five years ago.”

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent

Rishi Sunak laughs off Brexit damage to UK economy: ‘It was five years ago’

Watch: Sunak avoids question about personal NI contribution

09:11 , Sam Hancock

I don’t have a ‘magic wand’ to fix cost of living crisis, says Sunak

09:10 , Sam Hancock

Last bit from Rishi Sunak’s media interviews now. The chancellor said, once again, he does not have a “magic wand” to make cost of living pressures disappear.

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about the impact of inflation on price increases, Mr Sunak said he had “addressed inflation yesterday in the Budget speech” but that he wanted to “provide a bit of an explanation and some reassurance on what was going on”.

He said:

“It is largely down to two global forces: one is the impact of rapidly reopening economies putting pressure on global supply chains and the other factor is, of course, energy prices.

“I wish I did but I don’t have a magic wand that can make those global challenges disappear, they are going to be with us for a little while.

“But where the government can make a difference, we are – whether it is the tax cut, whether it is freezing fuel duty, whether it is helping people with energy bills through the winter, where we have put support in place, we are doing what we can.”

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent Sunak is pictured on a visit to Fourpure Brewery, in London’s Bermondsey, on Wednesday (Getty)

Brexit has worsened UK supply chain crisis, watchdog says

09:00 , Sam Hancock

On that note, here’s some reporting that suggests Brexit hasn’t been entirely beneficial to the UK.

The UK’s divorce from the EU made the shortages hitting Britain’s economy worse compared to the rest of the world, the government’s spending watchdog has said.

Ministers have repeatedly blamed a “global crisis” for empty shelves and depleted petrol stations across the country – confusing international observers who are not facing similar problems at home. But the government was contradicted in dramatic fashion on Wednesday by its own Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), writes our policy correspondent Jon Stone.

In documents released alongside Rishi Sunak’s budget the fiscal watchdog said: “Supply bottlenecks have been exacerbated by changes in the migration and trading regimes following Brexit. Energy prices have soared, labour shortages have emerged in some occupations, and there have been blockages in some supply chains.”

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent

Brexit has worsened UK supply chain crisis, government’s own spending watchdog says

Is Sunak right to hail ‘trade deals and freeports’ as benefits of Brexit?

08:54 , Sam Hancock

Our deputy political editor Rob Merrick doesn’t think so.

Rishi Sunak lists the benefits of Brexit as….new trade deals & freeports

His economic advisers say both will deliver no economic gain #r4today

— Rob Merrick (@Rob_Merrick) October 28, 2021

Chancellor appears to confuse Bury for Burnley – in interview from Bury

08:42 , Sam Hancock

While speaking to BBC Breakfast today, the chancellor appeared to mix up the name of the Greater Manchester town he was conducting his broadcast interviews in, referring to Bury market as the “world famous Burnley market”.

It came after presenter Ben Thompson told Rishi Sunak he originated from Burnley, in Lancashire.

Mr Sunak, answering a question about the government’s so-called levelling-up agenda, said: “It is not just about being in the north by the way, we’re here in Burnley but if you are growing up in a village in the southwest or even on the south coast, people want to feel opportunity is there for them, wherever they happen to be.”

He continued: “I put it down to two things. One is having pride in the place you call home and a lot of what we announced yesterday, the levelling-up fund – bids like Burnley market, world famous Burnley market, benefiting from £20m of investment.

“That’s going to create jobs. It is about improving the every day infrastructure of our communities.”

Burnley is 20 miles north of Bury.

Sunak defends decision not to cut VAT on home energy bills

08:40 , Sam Hancock

Over to BBC Breakfast now, where Rishi Sunak defended his decision not to cut VAT on home energy bills to counter rising energy prices.

Asked on the programme why he did not make such a move, the chancellor claimed “it is not a particularly well-targeted measure, because people living in very large homes with large energy bills would disproportionately benefit from that”. He also pointed out “many independent experts and think tanks” had already made the same point.

“Actually, where we want to target support is on those who are a bit more vulnerable,” he continued.

“That is why just over a month ago, or around about then, we announced half-a-billion pounds in something called the household support fund, and that will provide £150 for about three million of our most vulnerable households, to help them with some of those higher bills through the winter period.”

Mr Sunak added: “I think that is a more targeted approach to get help to those who really need it, not a very large VAT cut, the bulk of the benefit of which would end up going to people with large homes with big bills who probably don’t need the help.”

“We did take action”⁰

On #BBCBreakfast Chancellor Rishi Sunak is asked about the rising cost of living.

— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) October 28, 2021

Chancellor swerves question on his NI tax contribution

08:28 , Sam Hancock

Rishi Sunak today refused to be drawn on whether his own National Insurance (NI) tax contribution is enough, amid continued complaints it is the people earning far less than people like him who will feel the rise the most.

Sky News’ Kay Burley told the chancellor her team had calculated his NI tax would come to £8,500 this year based on his £148,000 salary, to which Mr Sunak nodded enthusiastically.

“Given that you’re on a good salary, and given that you did very well in the City and you’re very comfortably off, do you think that is enough of a contribution by you?”

Mr Sunak replied, without actually answering the question, that NI was a “progressive way to raise money”.

Ms Burley cut in, after Mr Sunak spoke for some time about why NI tax was a “good thing”, to say he “wasn’t answering the question”. She added: “Do you think if you’re paying £8,500 in NI, and you’ve got a healthy bank balance like yours, that is fair? Is that levelling up?”

The chancellor then went on to give his definition of levelling up, without answering the question.

When asked if he believes he is paying enough in National Insurance considering his net worth, Chancellor Rishi Sunak insists that “National Insurance is a progressive way to raise money”#KayBurley

— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 28, 2021

Sunak refuses to commit to cutting taxes before next election

08:07 , Sam Hancock

Let’s hear from Rishi Sunak now. The chancellor has been talking to Sky News’ Kay Burley about his 2021 Budget, announced in the Commons yesterday.

Mr Sunak this morning refused to commit to cutting taxes before the next general election. Asked whether he would slash taxes before the next Westminster polling day, which is expected to be held by 2024, Mr Sunak said:

“We started cutting taxes yesterday, our priority being those on the lowest incomes. There is a tax cut for two million families [due to the reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate] and it is not going to come in as normal next April – it is going to come in, in a few weeks time so we can get help to people right now.

“But, as I said very clearly yesterday, my ambition is to lower taxes for people, that is what I would like to do as chancellor.

“We had to take some corrective action as a result of the crisis and the response we took to it, but hopefully that now is done and, as we demonstrated yesterday, our priority is to make sure that work pays, that we reward people’s efforts and I’m delighted we could make a start on that yesterday.”

Pressed on whether there would be income tax cuts before the next election, Mr Sunak replied only: “No, no – let’s talk about this Budget rather than all the other ones.”

07:58 , Sam Hancock

Here’s Anna Isaac’s full report on the below:

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent

Inflation could soon hit highest level in three decades, spending watchdog warns

Think-tank: Impact of Brexit on UK economy ‘will be greater than Covid’

07:57 , Sam Hancock

Following my last post, our economics editor Anna Isaac reports the following:

John Springford, deputy director at the Centre for European Reform, told The Independent he is “pretty confident that the impact of Brexit in the long run will be greater than Covid”.

Mr Springford’s modelling of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s trade with the EU was used to help inform the OBR’s analysis

Richard Hughes, chairman of the OBR, said, in response to a question from The Independent, that the UK’s “plain vanilla trade agreement” with the EU compared with “not very significant offsetting effects from trade agreements with other countries, which meant we left the 4 per cent loss of potential output assumption over the medium term in our forecast”.

That compared with the most recent OBR estimate of GDP being 2 per cent smaller as a result of the pandemic, Mr Hughes said. Half the damage of the increased trade barriers with the EU. Imports and exports were down roughly 10-15 per cent with the EU post-Brexit and since the pandemic, compared with a smaller fall of around 7 per cent with the rest of the world.

“We’re less connected to the outside world than we used to before and this is as a result of the fact it’s become harder to trade with our critical trading partner”, he added.

Brexit ‘worse for UK economy than Covid,’ warns OBR

07:51 , Sam Hancock

The impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be worse than that caused by the pandemic, according to the chairman of the UK fiscal watchdog.

Richard Hughes said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had assumed leaving the EU would “reduce our long run GDP by around 4 per cent”, adding in comments to the BBC: “We think that the effect of the pandemic will reduce that (GDP) output by a further 2 per cent.”

“In the long term it is the case that Brexit has a bigger impact than the pandemic”, Mr Hughes told the broadcaster hours after the OBR responded to Rishi Sunak’s latest Budget by saying it expected inflation to reach 4.4 per cent while warning it could hit “the highest rate seen in the UK for three decades”.

Since the referendum, we have assumed trade intensity would eventually be 15% lower vs staying in EU. Since trade regime changed in Jan21: exports to EU down 10% & imports frm EU down 15% on pre-Brexit levels but non-EU trade is back at those levels.

More in Box 2.5#Budget2021

— Office for Budget Responsibility (@OBR_UK) October 27, 2021

ICYMI: UK vows to retaliate if France enforces ‘illegal’ fishing sanctions

07:48 , Sam Hancock

To understand the escalation of the UK-France fishing row, this from last night by Rory Sullivan is good reading.

The UK said it will retaliate in “an appropriate and calibrated” manner if France follows through with its threats to impose sanctions amid a dispute over fishing licences.

Downing Street responded angrily to a warning by the French government that it could ban British seafood imports and could even cut the supply of energy to the Channel Islands.

Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, said it was “disappointing” France had decided to make such threats.

Read the full report here:

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent

UK vows retaliation if France imposes ‘illegal’ sanctions amid Brexit fishing row

French minister tweets British fishing boat ‘handed over to judicial authority’

07:44 , Sam Hancock

Here’s what France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin said on the matter:

Ce mercredi, 2 navires anglais ont été verbalisés lors de contrôles classiques au large du Havre.

➡️ Le premier n’a pas obtempéré spontanément : verbalisation.

➡️ Le second n’avait pas de licence pour pêcher dans nos eaux : dérouté à quai et remise à l’autorité judiciaire.

— Annick Girardin (@AnnickGirardin) October 27, 2021

France detains British trawler in fishing rights row

07:43 , Sam Hancock

France has detained a British trawler and has given a verbal warning to another fishing in waters off its coast, amid an escalating dispute over fishing rights.

Two English ships were fined during checks off Le Havre, a port in France’s Normandy region, the French Maritime Ministry said in a tweet, reports Anuj Pant.

It is the latest incident in a feud between Britain and France over fishing rights and comes after France said on Wednesday it would bar British fishing boats from some French ports starting next week if no deal is reached with the UK.

Brexit news – live: UK-France fishing dispute ‘a fight, not a war,’ says Paris as British trawler detained
© Provided by The Independent

France detains British trawler amid dispute over fishing rights

07:38 , Sam Hancock

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates on Brexit and continued reaction to chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Budget.

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