TWO Royal Navy gunships have arrived off Jersey to protect the island from the threat of a French blockade.
Around 100 French fishing vessels began arriving at the island just after 6am and some on board were setting off flares as a huge row develops over post-Brexit fishing rights.
Locals in the capital Saint Helier said tensions are running “very high” today as footage shows boats descending on the small island – just 14 miles from the French coast.
HMS Severn, which has previously been used to shadow Russian navy warships, and HMS Tamar arrived near Jersey earlier this morning.
Boris’ dramatic move came after French fishermen – backed by Emmanuel Macron’s ministers – vowed to shut off the island unless they could fish more British waters, a threat branded an “act of war”.
The furious spat erupted after the island – which is under Britain’s protection – slapped French trawlers with post-Brexit fishing licence requirements.
Read our Jersey stand-off live blog below for the latest updates…
The furious cross-Channel bust-up escalated after one of Macron’s key allies threatened to pull the plug on the tiny island’s electricity and French fisherman vowed to blockade ports to cut off food and medicine.
French Maritime Minister Annick Girardin threatened to cut off the island’s power of which 95 per cent is generated on the continent and supplied by three underwater cables.
She blasted: “We are ready to use these retaliation measures. I am sorry it has come to this. We will do so if we have to.”
After France warned it would be “brutal and difficult” unless their boats got better access, Britain branded the comments “surprising and disappointing, especially from a close neighbour.”
HMS Severn and HMS Tamar, the two ships being sent, are under orders to protect the UK’s sovereign fishing grounds.
The ships were deployed soon after the UK finally departed the EU at the beginning of the year – again to ward off French trawlers.
They are armed with a 20mm cannon, which can fire 700 rounds a minute at a range of 1300 yards, and can travel at up to 20 knots.
Following crisis talks with the island’s leadership, Downing Street said: “The Prime Minister underlined his unwavering support for Jersey.
“He said that any blockade would be completely unjustified. As a precautionary measure the UK will be sending two Offshore Patrol Vessels to monitor the situation.
“They agreed the UK and Jersey Governments would continue to work closely on this issue.”
About 100 French fishing vessels arrived at Jersey’s port this morning and are due to launch the blockade as part of a protest against the new rules, the head of fisheries for the Normandy region, Dimitri Rogoff has said.
In the face of increasingly bellicose French threats, two patrol vessels will be sent to monitor the situation and protect the islands 100,000 citizens who depend wholly on imports for food, medicine and even electricity.
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