Tag Archives: France

The UK caved in to France over the Brexit fishing row. Don’t let Kuenssberg lie to you!

How curious to see the BBC still trying to claim a UK victory against France and the EU in the row over fishing permits!

For clarity: the reason France has released a British trawler it detained is that the UK has now handed out the fishing permits that France wanted. Boris Johnson caved in.

Under the Brexit agreement, the EU and UK have agreed they will give fishing licences to boats if they can show they have fished in each others’ waters for years.

But the UK had rejected applications from French fishing businesses, quibbling over the amount of evidence that is needed. It is suggested that only around 40 boats were affected, who had either not taken part in a monitoring survey, or were replacement vessels for firms that had fished in UK waters with their previous boats.

France had threatened sanctions against the UK unless more licences were granted by November 2 – but then suspended the threats ahead of new talks set to take place today (November 4).

BBC Political Editor and Tory propagandist Laura Kuenssberg span – but nobody who knows anything about the matter was fooled:

So there you have it.

It will be interesting to learn what comes of these talks today, considering the main issue has just evaporated.

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The Castex letter DIDN’T say the UK should be punished. Kuenssberg was WRONG

Laura Kuenssberg: by publicising an apparent mistranslation of a letter by the French Prime Minister, she has caused a major international political row. Can she even read French?

The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, misrepresented a letter on the UK/EU fishing row by French Prime Minister Jean Castex – apparently to stoke international tensions on the eve of the G20 and COP26 summits.

The UK and France are sabre-rattling over rights to fish in each other’s waters, after the UK prohibited some French trawlers over a technicality.

Kuenssberg aggravated the row by publicising a letter from Castex to European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen, claiming it said the EU needed to demonstrate that there was “more damage to leaving the EU than remaining there”.

This is based on a translation publicised by Alex Wickham of Politico. In tweets, he claimed the letter said:

“It is indispensable to demonstrate to European public opinion that more damage is suffered by leaving the EU than by remaining.”

The implication is that the EU should actively punish the UK.

An alternative translation by Edwin Hayward states the following:

“The UK’s uncooperative stance today threatens to cause great harm not only to fishermen, especially the French, but also to them [European] Union as it sets a precedent for the future and challenges our credibility and our ability to enforce our rights in relation to the international commitments signed by the union.

“It therefore seems necessary for the European Union to show its full determination to achieve full respect for the Agreement by the United Kingdom and to exercise its rights in a firm, cohesive and proportionate manner using the levers at its disposal.

“It is important to make it clear to European public opinion that respect for commitment is non-negotiable and that leaving the union does more harm than staying there.

“If a satisfactory solution is not found in this context, the European Union must apply Article 506 of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement and take corrective measures proportionate to the economic and social damage that [violations] will cause.”

That makes it a little different, once it’s put into context!

As Hayward states in his own article,

It should be immediately clear from the above text that there is no active intent to punish the UK. All the French want to do is to highlight the problems that Brexit has been causing — they are not trying to inflict new ones on us.

And people know:

(He means “…can’t be as advantageous as being IN” of course.)

Robert Peston said in his tweet that Boris Johnson has swallowed the Wickham translation and is “visibly angry” about the letter. But is he?

If Johnson is as well-educated as he’s supposed to be (Eton and Oxford) then it is entirely possible that he can read French for himself and knows exactly what the letter said. If so, then he is simply trying to manipulate a situation created by reporters (who probably can’t – with apologies to Kuenssberg and Peston if they turn out to be fluent, but that just implies that they know they’re peddling falsehoods and don’t care either).

This Writer, as a journalist and editor of nearly 28 years’ standing, agrees with Marcus Chown, below:

Indeed. Or indeed any journalist-training organisation such as the one that taught me (the National Council for the Training of Journalists). Where did Peston and Kuenssberg get their qualifications?

Actually, let’s check.

Kuenssberg, it seems, has no qualification as a journalist. She studied History at the University of Edinburgh, then spent a year studying (but the subject is not clarified) at Georgetown University in Washington DC, where she interned at the NBC News political programme. Returning to the UK, she eventually joined the BBC as a trainee journalist – but that doesn’t mean she was doing any training. ‘Trainee’ is just the name applied to a working reporter who hasn’t passed the test to become a Senior Reporter. If she was trained in the States, it was in an American standard of reporting.

Peston’s degree at Oxford was Politics, Philosophy and Economics. He then studied at the Université libre de Bruxelles – but again, it’s not clear what the subject was. He entered journalism via another back door, writing for the Investors Chronicle after being a stockbroker.

Those details aren’t very reassuring!

But it shouldn’t be up to the Kuenssbergs, Pestons, or even the Johnsons of this world to sort out this row. It’s a matter for the French.

All Jean Castex has to do is come out and read the relevant part of his letter, along with a translation into English saying exactly what he intended it to say.

That should end any ambiguity. How about it?

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Right-wing sabre-rattlers will only worsen UK-EU fishing rights crisis

It seems this prediction may have been all-too-accurate:

Sure enough, the UK and France are at loggerheads – over fishing rights, of all things. And it seems the UK is at fault.

Under the Brexit agreement, the EU and UK have agreed they will give fishing licences to boats if they can show they have fished in each others’ waters for years.

But the UK has rejected applications from French fishing businesses, quibbling over the amount of evidence that is needed. It is suggested that only around 40 boats are affected, who had either not taken part in a monitoring survey, or were replacement vessels for firms that had fished in UK waters with their previous boats.

It seems to This Writer that this is a classic case of “computer says no”; because these French applications did not tick all the boxes required by an automated system, they were automatically disqualifed. All that is really needed is for a human being to consider the circumstances. Sadly, it seems the UK government no longer has human beings working for it.

France has threatened to retaliate with sanctions described as “targeted measures”, if the row is not resolved by Tuesday. These may include blocking ports to UK boats, increasing checks on UK goods, boats and trucks, and cutting energy supplies.

(That is possible because a previous UK Conservative government privatised our energy suppliers, passing more than a third of them into the ownership of foreign governments, including that of France. French firm EDF controls 10.3 per cent of UK energy.)

The BBC has aggravated the row by publicising a letter by French Prime Minister Jean Castex, saying that the EU needed to demonstrate that there was “more damage to leaving the EU than remaining there”. Shouldn’t our public service broadcaster be impartial?

Of course the right-wing and racist flag-wavers have taken the opportunity to whip up anti-French feeling, banging the tribalist drum in the hope that nobody will bother to check whether the UK’s Tory government might actually be in the wrong (because it is).

,,, With limited success:

If France does take action unilaterally, the UK may have reason to escalate the matter – on a claim that our friends across the Channel have broken international law.

But…

Remember when the UK’s Tory government was threatening to break international law with its Internal Market Bill, that would have unilaterally rewritten the Northern Ireland Protocol? Boris Johnson would not have the moral high ground here.

Worse than “looking like total nobheads”, though, is the isolation in which the UK is viewed by practically every other nation in the world.

Boris Johnson’s government is not trusted at all and France, together with the EU, would be justified in doubting the sincerity of a national government that reneges on its treaties whenever its ministers find it expedient:

In this context, let’s turn to COP26, the imminent summit on climate change, taking place in Glasgow. Why should any nation stick to an agreement struck by Boris Johnson’s untrustworthy government?

If they don’t, though – or if he fails to achieve one because of his innate untrustworthiness, then the world burns.

Climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg has already condemned world leaders for spouting a load of “blah, blah, blah” and achieving nothing. Johnson may prove her right.

We should all hope that common sense will prevail.

But with Boris Johnson involved, if that does happen it will be the first time.

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Awkward AUKUS is victory for opportunism – and a chance for Johnson to bash the French

This baby’s nuclear: I have no idea if this is the kind of submarine Australia is getting.

Isn’t it?

This Writer wasn’t aware of Chinese sabre-rattling around Taiwan – I’m more concerned with domestic politics, and face it: how much did the BBC tell you about it up until now? – but I’m happy to accept that there’s an issue.

It seems the United States has been supplying Taiwan with military support of some kind, in order to fend off encroachment by the so-called Red Menace, but decided more help was needed and turned to Australia.

The Aussies saw an opportunity to progress into the military major leagues and said they’d help out – if they could have nuclear submarines – and the UK stepped in to offer to build them.

This meant Australia had to cancel a previously-existing deal for submarine upgrades – with France.

No wonder the French government is denouncing the deal as a “stab in the back”!

To This Writer’s way of thinking, it seems the United States is trying to drag the UK into yet another ill-advised foreign adventure.

Harold Wilson had the good sense to stay out of Vietnam, back in the 1960s – but then, he was probably the most intelligent prime minister the United Kingdom ever had.

Now we have Boris Johnson in charge – a man whose intelligence rates only slightly higher than a swamp filled with quicksand. And he has already started ramping up the UK’s warfaring capabilities in the hope that he can start a rumble that might make him popular at election time.

Let’s face it – all Joe Biden would have to do to drag that blonde lemming over the cliff* is whistle and point.

And Johnson gets to say he has whisked a plum contract out from under the noses of the French.

Never mind the fact that he’s bringing loads more nuclear waste into the country – it’s loadsamoney for… someone!

Yeah. This particular deal looks less and less tasty, the more I look at it.

Oh – and the Chinese have said they’re not happy with all this, but they would, wouldn’t they?

*I know Disney made up that particular urban myth but it’s such a well-known story that the comparison still works.

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French minister gives characteristic reaction to Patel ultimatum over refugees

Cool reception: Priti Patel waits to welcome refugees – but as these are coming by boat and not plane, she won’t be anything like as pleasant to them as she was to those she met from Afghanistan a couple of weeks ago.

Once upon a time in Whitehall…

“Goodness!” said Priti Patel. “We haven’t had so many refugees since my parents came over from Uganda* and I thought we pulled up the ladder on that, years ago!

“We can’t have Johnny and Janey Foreigner just popping over to live here any time they please, even if they are fleeing potential persection and death in their own country like dear old Mummy and Daddy were. But I’ve cut our Border Force to the bone.

“Good thing I’ve got the answer to the problem!”

Her ejaculation aroused prime minister Boris Johnson. He called up from his sex dungeon: “What are you going to do, Priti?”

“Why, what any self-respecting British politician would do!” smiled Patel. “I’ll pay the French some money to stop immigrants from even launching their boats into the English Channel. It’ll give those mollusc-munchers something to do apart from going on strike all the time – dirty scrounging snail-suckers!

“Oh, and don’t call me pretty, you loathsome lardy lust-walrus.”

But it wasn’t that easy…

“What do you mean, no?” demanded the homely secretary of her French counterpart. “Don’t you know that 756 aliens landed in the UK on Monday alone? We’ve had more than 12,600 of the buggers so far this year!”

Her French counterpart, M. Darmanin, shrugged. “What do you want me to do about it? You’d be better-off talking to your American buddies. What are they called, again? Mulder and Scully?

“We’ve got 400 miles of coastline to monitor and only a limited number of police. You were going to give us £54m to strengthen that cover but we haven’t seen a single centime yet.”

“Nor will you, unless you intercept more of those bloody invaders- uh… refugees!”

“And how will that help? There has never been any question of making payment conditional on meeting numerical targets and if you don’t pay, you’ll be ensuring that you don’t get the help you want.” The gentleman’s logic was impeccable.

“Well then we’ll… we’ll turn back to France anybody we intercept in UK waters!”

“You can’t. International Maritime Law means you have to detain them and take them back to a UK port.”

“We bloody will, you know!”

“Then you are jeopardising our agreement. France will not accept any practice that breaks International Maritime Law. And what if the refugees jump into the sea to escape being turned back? What if they drown?”

“So what?” asked Patel, nonplussed.

“Well, that is a matter for your conscience I suppose.” And M. Darmanin walked away, singing, “I’m a little despot, short and stout…”

A dispassionate observer, commenting from a sofa in Mid Wales, said: “Illegal immigration – especially where it is carried out by people-smuggling gangs – is a serious problem and needs to be countered. But this is not the way.

“One would think the Tory government had learned its lesson when the Taliban ignored their attempt to impose a unilateral extension on the deadline to quit Afghanistan. Apparently not.

“The days of the Empire are long gone and Tories like Patel helped destroy the UK’s international reputation. They can’t just threaten to send a gunboat and expect their counterparts in other countries to follow their demands.

“And they’re not going to solve the refugee issue until they examine the reasons people are coming to the UK and start working to make it unnecessary for them to do so.

But they’ll probably never even consider that as it might imply that they stop doing whatever they like, around the world, and start acting like responsible neighbours.”

*Yes: Priti Patel is the daughter of immigrants, but hypocritically can’t stand foreigners herself. She’s a shocking racist.

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Is this the Tory plan to stuff up Suffolk with nuclear waste?

Hinkley C tower collapse: this happened on a site EDF is constructing, as recently as June this year. Despite this demonstrable failure of safety precautions, Boris Johnson’s corner-cutting Conservative government wants to pay the same outfit to build another one, next to a National Trust site and an RSPB bird sanctuary.

Those geniuses in the Conservative government are out to pollute our countryside with nuclear waste again.

Presumably they think Fukishima was long enough ago that everybody has forgotten about it.

Come to that, they probably think we’ve all forgotten about the collapse of part of the new Hinkley Point C nuclear generator, under construction in Somerset, in June.

Maybe that’s why they have announced that they are in talks with France’s government-owned EDF Energy firm about building a new £20 billion nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk.

According to the BBC,

The Sizewell C site could generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity, enough to provide 7% of the UK’s energy needs.

The announcement is part of the long-awaited Energy White Paper, which ministers say will support up to 220,000 jobs over the next decade.

The policies should remove 230 million metric tonnes of emissions – equivalent to taking 7.5 million petrol cars off the road, the government says.

The paper… will also provide at least £6.7bn in support to the fuel poor and most vulnerable over the next six years.

Yes, but…

Hinkley Point C… has been hit with delays and rising costs, and is set to cost up to £2.9bn more than originally thought and be up to 15 months late.

The latest estimate for the project is between £21.5bn and £22.5bn, with EDF blaming “challenging ground conditions”.

Were those “challenging ground conditions” responsible for the collapse of a tower there last June? I wrote,

The 35-metre tower, weighing around 5,000 tonnes, suffered “structural damage” at around 7.30am, when onlookers claimed to have heard what sounded like an explosion.

Energy supplier EDF has denied that a blast occurred.

Commenting on the event, I stated:

I reckon the cause is obvious: bad design, substandard construction materials, corner-cutting in order to maximise profits.

So not only is this project a hugely expensive white elephant, it is a nuclear disaster waiting to happen.

Are we looking at the West Country’s future Fukushima?

And now the people of Suffolk are looking forward to all of this.

Already the announcement has been greeted with… shall we say trepidation?

It’s a good point. The price of renewables is plummetting, and could bring far more benefits for employment and the economy.

And also, who are we giving the money to, again?

Yes indeed; so much for Brexit. After more than five years of jingoism and sabre-rattling, it turns out that all that talk was just for show and the UK is going to continue selling every single nationally-owned asset it has to Johnny Foreigner.

It means that in the future, more than 10 per cent of the money we pay on our energy bills will go to the French government, where it will be invested in that country’s own energy policies.

Judging by what has happened with the privatised water firms, we already know that not a single penny will be spent on the UK.

I am also interested in this, which seems to be an expert view:

Finally, there’s this:

So this nuclear threat will be right next to a National Trust site and a bird sanctuary.

Is this part of the plan – to breed mutant birds?

Source: Sizewell C: Government in talks to fund £20bn nuclear plant – BBC News

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Car manufacturing jobs planned for Brexiteering Bridgend will now go to France

Jim Ratcliffe: the people of Bridgend would probably like to see the Ineos boss jump head-first off that parapet.

Another Brexiteering boss shafts the working people of Britain.

A majority of people in Bridgend voted for Brexit back in the 2016 referendum – possibly on the recommendations of people like Ineos boss Jim Ratcliffe (himself a Brexiter).

Ineos promised to manufacture a new 4×4 vehicle in Bridgend, as a successor to the Land Rover Discovery. Production was due to begin in 2021.

Except it turns out that Ratcliffe has now had a better offer from Europe and the car will now be built at the former Mercedes-Benz Hambach factory in Moselle, France.

Ratcliffe rubbed salt into the wounds with his comment on the new deal:

“Hambach presented us with a unique opportunity that we simply could not ignore: to buy a modern automotive manufacturing facility with a world-class workforce.”

He’s saying that facilities at Bridgend aren’t modern and the workforce is second-rate. What a charmer.

Perhaps we should have seen this coming, considering what Jacob Rees-Mogg said about Ineos on the BBC’s Question Time, and what actually happened:

Apparently Dominic Raab is a friend of Ratcliffe. Do you think he’ll ever respond to this query?

And what about the people of Bridgend? Hoodwinked, used, and cast aside, what comfort can they take from this?

Very cold comfort indeed.

Source: Ineos factory once planned for Wales will now be located in France instead – Wales Online

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Why does Sunak have billions for dormant companies, but not a penny to safeguard our jobs?

Rishi Sunak: he doesn’t want to save UK jobs. Meanwhile his government is funnelling billions into companies run by friends of the Tories – who can’t deliver what they promise.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has again been urged to extend the furlough scheme that safeguards huge numbers of UK jobs during the Covid crisis – a scheme he is adamant will end on October 31.

The Commons Treasury select committee has urged him to renew support for sectors of the economy that are still suffering because of the pandemic, saying the alternative is mass unemployment and an end to viable firms.

But you can probably see the problem Sunak has in the committee’s own words:

“Effectively targeted assistance to those who need it is important,” the committee says in an 84-page report, ‘Economic impact of coronavirus : the challenges of recovery’.

“The Chancellor should carefully consider whether a targeted extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and/or other targeted support measures might be required and explain his conclusions.”

The problem is that the UK’s current Tory government hasn’t yet had a target that it could hit.

Meanwhile…

Yes, we deserve far better. But we’re not going to get it.

Source: Coronavirus furlough ‘must be extended’ to avoid mass unemployment from October 31 – Mirror Online

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70 cases of Covid-19 after France reopened its schools but the Tories STILL protest that ours will be safe

Michael Gove, Amber Rudd and all the Tory apologists must be cringing at their comments over the weekend, with the latest news from France.

Our cousins across the Channel sent a third of their children back to school last week, with classes capped at 15 students in order to maintain social distancing and prevent Covid-19 infection.

It didn’t work:

Just one week after a third of French children went back to school in an easing of the coronavirus lockdown, there has been a worrying flare-up of about 70 Covid-19 cases linked to schools.

French education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer sounded the alarm on Monday, telling French radio RTL that the return has put some children in new danger of contamination. He said the affected schools are being closed immediately. French media reported that seven schools in northern France were closed.

Mr Blanquer did not specify if the 70 cases of Covid-19 were among students or teachers.

Given that the incubation period for the virus is several days, people are “likely” to have been infected before the reopening of schools, he said.

Last week France recorded its first death of a child linked to Kawasaki disease, a mysterious inflammatory syndrome that some doctors say could be triggered by Covid-19.

The nine-year-old boy was one of 125 children in France currently with the syndrome.

Sure, people were “likely” to have been infected before the reopening of schools – but who knows how many people in the seven that had to be closed – teachers, pupils, and parents after the kids came home – have been infected as a result of the return?

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Tories are still (desperately) trying to convince us that when they reopen our schools at the beginning of June, our children, teachers and families won’t suffer the same fate. But they’ve provided absolutely no evidence to support these claims, that seem increasingly unrealistic.

Michael Gove talked a lot of nonsense on TV:

So did Amber Rudd:

She said:

They have to go back because we need to make sure that our children go back and that all the issues to do not just with education, but also with security, safety, mental health issues, safeguarding, those children need to go back to school.

Gibberish!

In the UK, fears are rising that the government is putting teachers and parents at risk of Covid-19, and children in peril of dying from the new syndrome similar to Kawasaki disease. Considering the situation in France, these are proving justified:

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tried to claim that

children are at the heart of everything we do

and came a cropper – because some of us have long memories:

There will be no test, track and trace system for teachers and pupils:

Instead, they will have to self-isolate, along with anybody likely to be infected – as happened at this school in Colne:

No consideration has been given to the fact that infected children will share items including food with others:

Nor, it seems, has any been given to the facts of opening schools at this time:

What will happen?

I think we’ll see a concentrated campaign by the Tories and their puppets in the press, to persuade the public that there is no harm in sending their children back to school at the start of June – and that anybody saying otherwise is a fool at best, and an enemy of the people at worst:

Will it work?

Well…

And the Tories?

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New blue Brexit passports are made in Poland by a French-Dutch firm. Satire is dead

The old-style British passport. The new version is to be made entirely in the European Union by an EU-based company.

What else is there to say?

The iconic blue passport has become a symbol of the UK’s departure from the European Union for many people.

I wonder if these Brexiteers will be proud to brandish their new UK passports, in the knowledge that they have been manufactured entirely in the EU?

That’s Tory privatisation for you! They sold off our national resources, so foreign firms bought them – and will keep them, no matter whether we’re in the EU or not.

Source: Blue Brexit passports, made in Poland, unveiled by UK government – CNN

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