Four Royal Navy warships leave Portsmouth in Brexit show of force to French fisherman
A FLOTILLA of British gunships rushed into the Channel in a show of force to French trawlers over new Brexit fishing rights.
The four offshore patrol vessels left Portsmouth hours before the Brexit deal came into force on New Year’s Eve.
Armed with cannon and machine guns, the naval fleet are under orders to protect UK fishing grounds from Europeans.
HMS Trent led the Channel charge, followed by HMS Tamar, HMS Mersey and HMS Tyne.
A fifth patrol ship, HMS Severn, is also in the Channel on exercises.
The deployment of the convoy has been described as an ‘act of deterrence’ by Admiral Lord Alan West, the former head of the navy.
‘We are not trying to have a punch-up with foreign vessels,’ he added. ‘We are signalling that these are our waters and we are responsible for looking after them.’
Under new rules, French and other EU boats may continue to fish in British waters.
However, the amount they will be able to catch will be slashed as part of a five-and-a-half year transitional deal.
The Ministry of Defence said the mobilisation of the patrol ships was part of a ‘pre-planned’ deployment ‘to carry out routine activity’.