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Let’s be friendlier to the French

Siegfried Modola/Getty Images

Dispatching the Royal Navy to Jersey during the fishing dispute was pure “theatrics”, says Fraser Nelson in The Daily Telegraph. “Nothing says ‘vote Tory’ like sending gunships to see off the French.” But many Jersey fishermen have sympathy for their French counterparts, who have fallen through the “bureaucratic cracks” of the Brexit deal. One French skipper who has fished off Jersey for 40 years says his boat has now been given a licence to fish for just 11 hours a year. London and Paris need to sort out this “cack-handed” treatment, rather than “supercharge the military metaphors by sending in actual gunboats”.

Goodwill is needed elsewhere. Customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea are hugely divisive in Northern Ireland, and ludicrously stringent: there’s an EU ban on importing some plants “because they might carry a few particles of Scottish soil”. While it makes sense to address this by reforming the Northern Ireland protocol, we shouldn’t play “hardball”. Britain should be “the more generous party”, which will mean making concessions. There’s no point poisoning post-Brexit relations over inevitable, if unforeseen, problems. Before Boris Johnson had to change his phone number because the old one had been published online, he and Emmanuel Macron often “cooked up” initiatives by exchanging texts. Let’s hope Macron gets Johnson’s new number – and that he uses it.

Read the full article here.