‘Almost sick’ Barnier slammed by Jersey fishers for ‘gloating’ over Brexit struggles

President of the Jersey Fishermen’s Association, Don Thompson, spoke to Express.co.uk about the fishing situation in Jersey after the UK rejected a large portion of French licences in recent weeks. However, Mr Thompson explained the French fleet operating in Jersey is much larger than the domestic boats, adding Jersey fishermen have seen very few positives after Brexit. The fishing boss turned his eyes on Michel Barnier and said it was “almost sick” to hear him and others gloat about the problems with Brexit as he explained many people were suffering 

Mr Thompson accused Mr Barnier of “gloating” over the situation and saying the UK’s issues are a “direct” result of Brexit. 

He told Express.co.uk: “I think people in the UK probably feel the same that he just cannot stop trying to punish the UK for coming out of the EU. 

“Michel Barnier last week gloating over… look at what you’ve got, petrol shortage just because you came out of the EU.

“I mean that’s almost sick, people [are] suffering and him gloating over the Northern Ireland situation and the process there.”

Mr Barnier was speaking at a London School of Economics event promoting his book where he said the reason for fuel shortages in the UK is because of Brexit. 

He told the virtual event: “Part of the answer is linked, effectively, to the consequences of the Brexit because the UK chose to end the freedom of movement [of people]…

“And there is a clear link to the truck drivers…

“In addition to the freedom of movement, the UK choosing to leave the single market – that means that the UK decided to rebuild, for the very first time, non-tariff barriers between the EU and the UK. It is a direct and mechanical consequence of Brexit.”

Mr Thompson also spoke to Express.co.uk about the EU–UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA).

The fishing boss was angry that despite the UK turning down a large portion of French fishing licences to operate in UK waters, their fleet operating in Jersey is nearly five times the size of the local fleet.

He explained: “We had a meeting with our environment minister on Monday to look at the figures. 

“It’s 111 licences with another 31 that have been issued.  We were saying what did we get in return? Not one single Jersey boat has been licenced to fish in French waters. 

“We’ve been threatened with electricity supply to be cut off, the administrative sledgehammer came down on January 1. 

“Our waters have been declassified Category B so we can export [shellfish] and what are we getting out of this deal?

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“[He said if] he had to amend it, if it was down to him he would be calling time on the whole deal. 

“That is just not working for this island and I suspect that there are many people looking at the wider UK picture thinking it is not working there either.”

In May, French fishers blockaded the waters around St Helier after new rules preventing them from fishing in the waters unless they historically operated there came into place.

French fishers claim they were not consulted on the change and attacked both Jersey and French Governments for not resolving the administrative tasks quickly enough.

An amnesty was granted until September to allow boats to submit their applications but 75 applications were denied.

Mr Thompson previously told Express.co.uk he believed France would submit many applications they know will not be approved to see if they can worm their way in.

He recently told Express.co.uk he believes the reason France submitted many bogus applications was to make Jersey and the UK look bad when they eventually turn them down.

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