Tensions between the UK and France heat up over fishing rights with politicians in Paris engaging in sabre-rattling.
French threats to cut off the electricity of the largest island between England and France, known as Jersey, has resulted in London sending two armed vessels to monitor the situation.
According to the British government, the craft - HMS Tamar and HMS Severn - were sent to "monitor the situation".
The French government has been accused of using tactics normally associated with Russia in a bid to pressure the island to remove restrictions it placed on fishing boats from mainland France post-Brexit.
HMS Severn and HMS Tamar are deploying to Jersey to conduct maritime security patrols. This is a strictly precautionary measure and has been agreed with the Jersey Government.— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) May 5, 2021
One British government source speaking to a London newspaper said that even the Nazis didn't threaten to cut off the electricity to the island when they invaded during World War II.
Jersey gets more than 95 percent of its electricity through undersea cables from France, which is only 22km away from the coast. In contrast, Jersey is more than 137km from the English coast, meaning the UK government could do little to help the beleaguered island in the face of French threats.
The dispute arose last week after Jersey officials exercised their post-Brexit powers to choose how many French fishing vessels could enter the island's waters.
Jersey issued licenses to 41 vessels, and they would have access 11 days per year, down from more than 70 odd boats, which fished for an average of 40 days.
The new arrangement has French fishermen in Granville, a seaside town opposite Jersey fuming and French officials threatening to starve the island into submission.
As part of the new fishing regime, French fishermen were also asked to equip their boats with devices to monitor their locations.
French fishermen, for their part, complain that they have been having difficulty gaining the necessary license to fish in British coastal waters. During the Brexit negotiations, fishing rights were a key source of tensions between London and Brussels.
Following the announcement by Jersey officials, French fishing boats have started to amass off the island's coast in a bid to blockade food deliveries that the islanders rely on for survival.
Officials have described the move in Jersey as "pretty close to an act of war."
British pundits noted humorously that the current French attempts to flex their muscle marked the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon after he was exiled by the British to the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean.
Some wondered whether France had finally recovered from its defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar more than 200 years ago when the British navy defeated Napoleon thwarting his attempts to invade Britain.
In honour of Napoleon, after two centuries the French navy has finally recovered from Trafalgar, the Jersey Islands will be ours by end of May pic.twitter.com/hMSzvMcADE— Bronze Age Colonialist (@BColonialist) May 6, 2021
Whereas some islanders in Jersey have mocked French fishermen for attempting to blockade the island by firing their muskets towards the harbour.
A member of the Jersey Militia reenactment group was seen firing on the French boats with a musket from Elizabeth Castle this morning.— ITV News Channel TV (@ITVChannelTV) May 6, 2021
It's after the flotilla of French fishermen who blockaded Jersey's main harbour returned to open water.https://t.co/0nY4Kja6uw pic.twitter.com/rQQ4yPHvxd
But belying the humour, French threats have largely been met with a mix of dismay and shock at the behaviour of the French government and the fishermen.
One online reaction queried angrily, "Why do the French fishermen always think they can behave in such a childish way. Is Macron the new Napoleon, no he's a Poundland Putin."
Jersey is part of the Channel Islands which make up a group of islands that are a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom.