#WarWithFrance has been trending on social media this evening after it emerged that the Royal Navy were to dispatch two vessels to the Channel Islands as tensions with France rise.
The news came after days of tit-for-tat between the United Kingdom and France over fishing rights in the channel, with France allegedly threatening to stop the supply of energy to Jersey – one of the British islands off the coast of northern France.
Downing Street has said that the UK will send two offshore patrol vessels to Jersey as a precautionary measure to “monitor the situation”, with the government reacting harshly to the French threat to blockade the islands.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “any blockade would be completely unjustified” as over 100 French fishing boats prepared to sail to the island on Thursday.
Jersey has recently introduced new rules under the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that require French boats to show they have a history of fishing in Jersey’s waters.
French authorities said the “new technical measures” for fishing off the Channel Islands had not been communicated to the EU, rendering them “null and void”.
It has been reported that French fishing boats would sail to Jersey in the coming days in protest at the new rules, prompting a response from Downing Street.
French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin had escalated the tension between Jersey and French fishing vessels after threatening to cut off the island’s electricity supply, 95% of which is supplied by underwater cables from France.
“[We are] ready to use… retaliatory measures”.
“I am sorry it has come to this [but] we will do so if we have to”.
Whilst war with France is admittedly unlikely, the escalation of tensions over fishing rights, just days after the U.K. granted full diplomatic recognition to the E.U., represents a swift collapse in relations and a recent rise in tensions following Brexit.