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"War with France" has started trending on Twitter after the Royal Navy deployed two ships to Jersey.
A French minister had earlier threatened to cut off the island's electricity in a fishing row – leading to crisis talks on Wednesday night, May 5.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already called for an "urgent need for de-escalation in tensions".
In the interim, two offshore patrol vessels have been sent to "monitor the situation".
Thousands of Brits responded to the news on Twitter, with one posting: “War with France is trending.
“That’s one hell of a strategy the night before an election.”
Another said: “I knew Brexit was supposed to take us back to ‘the old Britain’ but I didn't think it'd go as far back as war with France.”
A third added: “Even I didn’t realistically think we’d try to start a war with France until at least a year from Brexit. We’re well ahead of schedule.”
The spat was kicked off by a new licensing system for French fishing boats, which requires them to show a history of fishing in Jersey’s waters.
France later suggested it could cut power supplies to the island if its fishermen are not granted full access to UK fishing waters under post-Brexit trading terms.
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Earlier, France's Seas Minister Annick Girardin said she was "disgusted" to learn that Jersey had issued 41 licences with unilaterally imposed conditions, including the time French fishing vessels could spend in its waters.
"In the (Brexit) deal there are retaliatory measures. Well, we're ready to use them," Girardin told France's National Assembly on Tuesday.
"Regarding Jersey, I remind you of the delivery of electricity along underwater cables … Even if it would be regrettable if we had to do it, we'll do it if we have to."
Jersey receives 95% of its electricity from France through three undersea cables.
A UK Government spokesman earlier said: "To threaten Jersey like this is clearly unacceptable and disproportionate.
"We are working closely with the EU and Jersey on fisheries access provisions following the end of the transition period so trust the French will use the mechanisms of our new treaty to solve problems."
The PM spoke to Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator John Le Fondre, and the Minister of External Affairs, Ian Gorst, on Wednesday and "underlined his unwavering support" for the island.
He said that of the 41 boats which sought licences under the new rules last Friday, all but 17 had provided the evidence required.
"The trade deal is clear but I think there has been some confusion about how it needs to be implemented, because we absolutely respect the historic rights of French fishermen to fish in Jersey waters as they have been doing for centuries," he said.
- Royal Navy
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