Get the latest from inside Westminster and beyond
Related video: Path of British trawler detained by France in fishing rights row
Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, has accused France of issuing “disappointing and disproportionate” threats against Britain and said she expects Catherine Colonna, who operates out of the French embassy in London, to explain why this has happened.
It comes after France detained a Scottish-owned fishing boat in waters off its coast on Thursday, after threatening to hit the UK with further measures next week unless more French vessels are granted licenses to fish in British waters.
Asked this morning about the claim by France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, that the only language Britain understands is “the language of force”, environment secretary George Eustice accused France of using “inflammatory language” – before going on to warn “two can play at that game”.
Follow our live coverage below
Eustice: ‘UK has issued 750 French boats with fishing licenses’
George Eustice refuted claims there has been a “blockade of fishing licenses” by the UK government, after a French member of Parliament said so on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
Asked for exact figures, Mr Eustice said resolutely the UK had issued “more than 1,000 EU boats” with the correct paperwork – “750 of which are French”.
Given the opportunity to speak, Bruno Bonnell, a French businessman and La République En Marche politician, laughed when asked about “threats” his country is issuing to the UK.
“I love this idea that France is threatening,” he said, before swiftly suggesting it is the UK in the wrong.
France accused of using ‘inflammatory language’
Let’s stick with George Eustice for now, as he accuses France of using “inflammatory language” and refuses to rule out blocking French vessels from landing their catches in Britain in retaliation.
Asked about the claim by France’s Europe minister Clement Beaune that the only language Britain understands is “the language of force”, Mr Eustice told BBC Breakfast using such language was “the wrong way to go about things”.
“We will see what they do on Tuesday but we reserve the right to respond in a proportionate way,” he repeated after an appearance on Sky News. “It’s always open to us to increase the enforcement we do on French vessels, to board more of them if that’s what they’re doing to our vessels, there are other administrative things we can require of vessels.”
Asked if the UK could block French vessels landing their catches in the UK, he said: “I’m not going to get into all the things we might do.
“If the French obviously do continue with this then yes we will take a proportionate response to that.”
Ministers warns France ‘two can play at that game’ in fishing row
Following my last post, our political correspondent Ashley Cowburn has more on George Eustice’s remarks to Sky News.
The environment secretary has suggested Britain would retaliate if France imposes sanctions in an escalating row over post-Brexit fishing rights, with the cabinet minister warning: “Two can play at that game”.
Mr Eustice insisted, however, that the UK had done “nothing wrong” and wanted to “defuse the issue” — just hours after Liz Truss summoned the French ambassador to the Foreign Office over the seizure of a British fishing boat.
French ministers have also warned they will block British boats from some French ports and tighten checks on vessels travelling between France and the UK if the issue is not resolved by 2 November — as well as threatening the electricity supply to the Channel Islands.
‘We obviously reserve the ability to respond in a proportionate way,’ George Eustice says
UK ‘reserves the ability to respond in a proportionate way’ – Eustice
More from George Eustice now, as he warns France the UK could retaliate if it goes ahead with threats in the fishing row, warning that “two can play at that game”.
He told Sky News foreign secretary Liz Truss will challenge the French ambassador over what the nation intends to do next in the fishing row.
“We don’t know what they’ll do, they said they wouldn’t introduce these measures until Tuesday probably at the earliest so we will see what they do,” Mr Eustice added.
“But if they do bring these into place, well, two can play at that game and we reserve the ability to respond in a proportionate way.”
Eustice condemns ‘unjustified’ threats from France – and asks they are ‘removed’
George Eustice has called out France for issuing “unacceptable” and “unjustified” threats against the UK.
Appearing on Sky News this morning, the environment secretary said “hundreds” of French boats had been given licenses to fish in British waters, before stressing the two countries “are not at war”.
However, he did call on France to act on “calming down” the situation by removing their threats to close ports and “be difficult” at the borders.
FCDO summons French ambassador for talks amid fishing row
Boris Johnson’s government has summoned the French ambassador for talks over the seizure of a British fishing boat, as the bitter post-Brexit dispute between the countries over fishing licences escalates.
Foreign Office minister Wendy Morton was instructed to demand that the French ambassador Catherine Colonna comes in for talks after Brexit minister Lord David Frost held a crisis meeting of senior cabinet colleagues on Thursday, reports Adam Forrest.
France detained a British scallop trawler in waters off its coast and has threatened to hit the UK with more measures next week, with one of Emmanuel Macron’s ministers vowing to “speak the language of strength”.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the ambassador would be expected to turn up at the Foreign Office on Friday “to explain the disappointing and disproportionate threats made against the UK and Channel Islands”.
Boris Johnson’s government condemns ‘unjustified’ French threats
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest fallout from the fishing rights dispute between France and Britain.