Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Tensions between Paris and London over Fishing Is About Inter-Imperialist Rivalry

In the days leading up to the G20 summit that began today, France threatened the United Kingdom with “reprisals” if it does not issue licenses to French fishing boats. It is a reactionary conflict playing out against the background of growing tensions between the two countries in the wake of Brexit.

Juan Chingo

October 30, 2021
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo: The Independent

On the eve of the G20 summit in Rome, at which French president Emmanuel Macron and British prime minister Boris Johnson will both be in attendance, Paris has threatened London with “reprisals” if London does not issue the licenses to French fishing boats that have been demanded for nine months.

The threatened retaliation, which would go into effect beginning Tuesday, November 2, includes a ban on unloading British fishery products in all French ports; increased customs and health controls; “systematic” security checks of British vessels; and a “strengthening” of controls on trucks going to and coming from the United Kingdom, particularly at the port of Calais.

These measures could affect British supplies, which have been seriously compromised since Brexit went into effect. A second wave of retaliation could go even further: France “does not rule out reviewing the energy supply” it helps provide for the Channel Islands, the government warned in a statement. And in a sign of the level of tensions, French authorities confirmed on Thursday, October 28, that a British ship had already been seized the previous day, and was still being held, for fishing off Le Havre — in French territorial waters — without a license.

This conflict, though, has nothing really to do with fishing — regardless of what the two governments may say. The reality is that France is using the UK’s physical isolation, and French control over some of the flow of goods and energy to Britain, in an effort to punish London. As France’s secretary of state for European affairs, Clément Beaune, eloquently put it on CNews, “We now have to speak the language of force because — unfortunately, I fear — it is the only thing this British government understands.”

For its part, the British government, faced with the crisis and difficulties of Brexit, is using the harsh French actions as an excuse to circle the wagons on the home front. As part of this little stage play, the French ambassador to London, Catherine Colonna, was summoned on Friday to “explain the disappointing and disproportionate threats against the UK and the Channel Islands.”

The underlying reasons for the crisis are geopolitical, and are all about the collateral damage caused by Brexit on both sides of the English Channel. France accuses the British of weakening the European Union, which is France’s main instrument of influence on the continent, and of sabotaging its ambitions in the Indo-Pacific (through the AUKUS agreement between the United States, Great Britain, and Australia that caused Paris to lose a lucrative contract to sell submarines to Australia).

In turn, the British accuse the French of sabotaging Brexit, particularly in Northern Ireland — opening fissures that could lead to the resumption of armed conflict in that powderkeg region and, potentially, to the breakup of the United Kingdom — but also of wanting to divide NATO by creating a military stronghold in Europe (despite how little resonance France’s efforts to advance what it calls a “strategic autonomy” of the EU has had).

The warlike tone of the French ministers, who are using the fishing issue demagogically to defend their nationalist interests, shows how important this is to them. The French minister of Maritime Affairs, Annick Girardin, declared on the RTL radio network, “This is not war; it is a fight. The French and the fishermen have rights. An agreement signed was, and we must enforce that agreement. We have fishing rights; we must defend them; and we will defend them.”

What is clear is that this is not our fight. It’s up to the workers of Britain and France to join forces to take on, together, their decaying imperialisms and these sorts of reactionary measures.

First published in French on October 28 in Révolution Permanente.

Translation by Scott Cooper

Facebook Twitter Share

Juan Chingo

Juan is an editor of our French sister site Révolution Permanente.

Twitter

Europe

More than a million people demonstrated across France against President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to raise the country’s legal age of retirement to 64 from 62.

‘This is only the beginning of the struggle’: Interview with a Healthcare Worker about the Strikes in France

Last Thursday, two million workers across France went on strike to protest the Macron government’s attempt to raise the retirement age. Left Voice spoke to Feargal McGovern, a worker at a hospital in Grenoble, France, and a member of the new organization Révolution Permanente.

Left Voice

January 23, 2023
Young Die Linke members at a meeting on January 14, 2022 deciding to break with the reformist party.

150 Young People in Berlin Break from Reformism

A conference last Saturday discussed a “revolutionary break” from Germany’s Left Party, Die Linke.

Nathaniel Flakin

January 18, 2023
A flag says "Linksjugend-Solid," the youth organization of Germany's Die Linke party.

A Revolutionary Break from Die Linke in Germany

Germany’s Left Party is in a profound crisis. This weekend, over 100 young people are gathering in Berlin for a conference. Their goal is to break from Die Linke and begin building a revolutionary organization.

Tom Krüger

January 11, 2023

Revolutionary Alternatives in France: Building A New Socialist Organization to Overcome the Failure of the NPA

On the weekend of December 16-18, 2022, the Congress for the founding of a new revolutionary organization, promoted by the organization Révolution Permanente, part of the Trotskyist Fraction and of the International Network La Izquierda Diario, was held in France. We publish here the intervention of Daniela Cobet, leader of Révolution Permanente, during the first day of the session.

Daniela Cobet

January 6, 2023

MOST RECENT

No to NATO Tanks in Ukraine, Let’s Fight the Escalation!

Left Voice and our comrades in Germany issue a joint statement against NATO sending tanks to Ukraine. We call on the working class to organize against this reactionary war which continues to escalate.

Left Voice

January 31, 2023

Higher Ed Strike Fever: This Morning, Temple’s Grad Students Walked off the Job

TUGSA, organizing Temple University’s graduate students, walked out on strike this morning. Winning will take bottom-up organizing from Temple’s unions and undergraduates, shoulder to shoulder with TUGSA on the pickets.

Jason Koslowski

January 31, 2023

The New York Times Is Wrong: Trans Kids Need Support, Not “Gender Skepticism”

While state legislatures across the country have launched an unprecedented attack on trans youth, the New York Times saw fit to publish a pair of articles calling on liberals to make space for “gender skeptical” ideas among parents. They are wrong. Trans kids need more support, not gender skepticism.

Reba Landers

January 31, 2023
Temple University undergraduate students in Philadelphia walking outside a main building.

Temple’s Undergrads Are Taking On the University Bosses

At Temple University, undergraduate students are joining the ranks of higher ed workers who are fighting back.

Jason Koslowski

January 30, 2023