Pause Brexit divorce payments! Boris urged to issue EU ultimatum over Macron’s bullying

Fishing rights: Artus Galiay says France has been ‘inappropriate’

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French leaders haven’t been shy in issuing loaded threats to Britain in recent weeks in attempts to gain more access to British waters. Now, the Prime Minister is being told to get tough so as to force France to back down. Reform Party leader and businessman Richard Tice says the best way to show France and the EU how serious we are about maintaining our post-Brexit fishing rights is to pause Brexit divorce payments until the issue is resolved.

Emmanuel Macron was left fuming when the UK approved 15 permits for small French fishing boats in UK waters, rejecting a further 32 applications.

He set a deadline of November 2 for more permits to be issued, warning that Britain will be punished if demands are not met.

But for many in Britain, including Mr Tice, backing down is simply out of the question.

“Let’s pause EU divorce bill payments in response to French bullying and threats on fishing licences,” he urged in a post on Twitter.

That could see the EU missing out on up to £7.5billion in payments this year and around £5.5billion in 2022, according to Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates.

The total cost of the divorce bill could reach up to £34.1billion.

Payments will be made over a 46-year period ending in the 2060s, but the bulk of the cost will have been paid-up by the mid-2020s.

The OBR expects that 70 percent of the total will have been paid by 2023.

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As such, threatening to pause payments in 2021/2022 would come as a large blow not just to France but to the EU as a whole.

Since March this year, Parliament has been able to approve or disapprove most settlement payments to the EU, so pausing payments could potentially be a weapon in the Prime Minister’s arsenal.

But the legal ramifications would be huge. The OBR highlights that, even if a payment were voted down in the Commons, “the UK would still be required to meet its legal obligations under the financial settlement”.

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Mr Macron has been attempting to win the favour of the EU in his dispute with British leaders. Perhaps Britain threatening to temporarily cut off its settlement payments would lead the bloc to urge France to back down.

Especially given that one EU official has stated that Mr Macron is simply “overplaying” the row ahead of upcoming presidential elections in France – a view likely shared by other officials.

Franco-British relations did not seem to improve after Mr Johnson and Mr Macron met on Sunday at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Mr Macron, quoted in Euro News, said following the meeting: “I don’t want any escalation, but we must take things seriously.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister insisted, however, that the onus is on France to change its position.

“If the French Government wants to come forward with proposals for a de-escalation of the threats they have formulated, they will be welcome.”

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