UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is sending the Royal Navy to Jersey to protect the island from a potential French blockade on the island’s ports tomorrow morning.
It’s understood that up to 100 boats are planning to swarm the harbour at 06:00 – potentially preventing the movement of the cargo-carrying Condor Clipper – to demonstrate French mariners’ fury over restrictive fishing permit conditions they claim Jersey “unilaterally” imposed on them.
Express understands that Jersey's Ports authority has been holding emergency meetings of its Strategic Command Group to draw up plans if the threat does come to fruition. The UK Government has now stepped in to offer its support.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “This evening the Prime Minister spoke to the Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator John Le Fondré, and the Minister of External Relations, Ian Gorst, about the prospect of a blockade of St. Helier.
“The Prime Minister and Chief Minister stressed the urgent need for a de-escalation in tensions and for dialogue between Jersey and France on fishing access.
“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 the issue."
Grateful to Prime Minister @BorisJohnson for speaking with @Ian_Gorst and me this evening, and offering his wholehearted support in de-escalating the tensions between Jersey and our French neighbours over fishing access.— John Le Fondre (@John_Le_Fondre) May 5, 2021
Senator Gorst commented: "My thanks to Prime Minister BorisJohnson for his support and reassurances during our discussion this evening.
"We will continue to work closely with the UK Government in order to resolve the current challenges diplomatically and avoid any unnecessary escalation."
The CEO of Guernsey Electricity confirmed this afternoon that the company is in talks with French electricity partners in an effort to maintain the island's energy supply. Alan Bates also confirmed that any switch-off of Jersey's power supply would knock out Guernsey's main source of electricity.
Pictured: Last year, Guernsey imported more than 93% of its electricity, with on-island generators only used as a top-up during peak winter demand and as a back-up when the GJ1 inter-connector needs to be switched off for maintenance.
“Guernsey Electricity has a security of supply strategy where the role of the power station is to provide continuity of electricity supply in the event of any issue with the importation cable," Mr Bates told Express.
"We can reassure all consumers of the resilience of the local generation capability and there is sufficient capacity to meet all the island’s electricity demand."
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