UK has NOT seen last of Macron’s Brexit threats as reelection bid looms – expert

Macron mindful of re-election bid during fishing row says expert

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Journalist Ned Temko told BBC’s Dateline that he doubted the UK has “seen the last” of President Macron’s post-Brexit threats as seen during the fishing and Northern Ireland Protocol rows. He claimed the Frenchman has to prove to his people in Spring 2022 that he is not “weak or taken advantage of” on the global stage.

Mr Temko said the row over fishing is what he branded as “essentially a political row” and that there is more to the debacle than just post-Brexit issues.

He suggested: “On the British side we have a highly ideological government who’s powering credo is Brexit and making Britain great again, Global Britain…

“And we must not forget that Emmanuel Macron in France has an important reflection date early next year with the voters of France.”

Mr Temko suggested as a result of the looming election Mr Macron does not want to “appear weak or taken advantage of” in front of his voters and fighting talk aimed at Britain, especially surrounding Brexit related issues, are vital for his reelection. 

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The journalist went so far as to claim given the upcoming election, Mr Macron has a “relatively narrow scope for manoeuvre” to prove himself further to his electorate, as he suggested yet more provocative post-Brexit attacks could come Britain’s way as a result.

Mr Temko went on to acknowledge that while neither side wanted a “blow up” of relations over the fishing row and the Northern Ireland Protocol he stressed “I doubt we have seen the last of this” as he issued a sobering warning of what President Macron could devise next.

The comments follow months of chaos in Britain’s waters following a post-Brexit agreement that stated the French must apply for new licences in order to continue to fish in the 6-to-12 nautical-mile zone of UK waters.

France accused Britain of not following their side of the deal, arguing they had not been handed the agreed number of boat licences. Britain continually denied that it had not been playing fairly.

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Despite claims by the French, UK fishing licensing bodies insisted a raft of French fishing boats did not correctly submit the evidence required to prove they have fished in British waters before Brexit, a requirement under the new rules.

The backlash sparked a wide range of threats from Mr Macron and culminated in a British fishing vessel, the Cornelis Gert Jan, owned by McDuff Shelfish, being seized by the French coastguard – the vessel and its skipper were released on Wednesday.

Relations were partly restored last week when Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed to hand France a further 100 fishing licences to calm the row while Mr Macron retracted threats to bloc UK boats landing their catch in French ports – a move that could have collapsed the UK fishing industry.

But ongoing discussions to bring an end to the chaos were thwarted yet again on Thursday as talks ended in a stalemate over the future of the fishing deal after Brexit minister Lord David Frost spent around 90 minutes meeting France’s Europe minister, Clément Beaune.

President Macron currently has roughly 23 percent of the prospective vote, down from 24 percent on October 11, in the run-up to the French election.

At the same time, Marine Le Pen is rallying support: She has made a one percent gain over the same period, rising from 16 percent to 17 percent – though this comes after dipping significantly in recent weeks, having previously been neck-and-neck with the premier.

Despite this, Politico’s analysts expect President Macron to be on course for a second term as President, with a predicted 56 percent of the vote, with Ms Le Pen pulling in an estimated 44 percent.

Ms Le Pen is currently struggling for favour as well, as Politico puts her four points behind her position in 2017. During her second bid for the presidency, she had support from a projected 21.3 percent of French voters.

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