The island of Jersey gets 95% of its electricity via cables from France. The latest post-Brexit fishing dispute got so hot so fast, that a French minister even suggested cutting off the electricity if they didn’t get their way. 60 French fishing vessels were protesting at slow licensing. But naval ships from both sides were even called in to patrol the area, the situation has been defused.
Surely the UK government must be working out that electricity supply is a major tool for foreign disputes. Currently about 10% of the UK electricity comes in via undersea cables*, but that is set to rise to 25%, according to the Daily Mail. Surely alarms are ringing? This is not even the first time this outrageous threat was made. Macron himself threatened it last October too. See “Hands Up! Your money or your Fish!“
There is a very uneasy power balance here: The right to fish in British waters is worth about 650 million euros to EU fishermen, but European energy markets were worth up to £2.3 billion for the UK.
Not only does it leave the UK in a weaker negotiation position, but a selfish foreign player could also ambiguously twist the knife with well timed, deniable, cable accidents costing millions of dollars and wreaking havoc. A blackout in 2017 left many travellers trapped in underground train systems for hours, with many resorting to mobile phone “torches” to find their way out. Chaos.
Smart political players lecture gullible patsies on setting “net zero” targets to change the weather, while making sure they use nuclear power or just repeatedly fail to meet their own targets.
In this case both leaders are playing a popular vote-winning card for their domestic audiences. There is a lot of puffery theater going on. But underneath that are very real vulnerabilities that will matter when things unravel due to pandemics, wars or economic crashes.
Who knows, what if a third party submarine decided to target those cables? Could they get away with that in the Channel? Greater military minds than I will know more about what’s possible with submarines in the Channel — remembering that it doesn’t need to be a big sub to damage a power cable, or perhaps, even a sub. How about fishing boats, anchors or divers?
UK faces electric shock: Jersey fishermen row shows our reliance on Europe for power could land us in big trouble, expert warns
by Harriet Line, UK Daily Mail
Tony Lodge, a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies think-tank, said the UK is setting itself up for ‘almighty trouble’ by the end of the decade. He warned that Britain is offshoring its energy security and emissions to Europe, leaving it vulnerable if the Continent’s surplus of power is reduced.
On Tuesday French maritime minister Annick Girardin said Paris would cut off electricity to Jersey – which gets 95 per cent of its power supply from France – if the dispute was not resolved. Mr Lodge yesterday said this had ‘inadvertently exposed’ the ‘very dangerous’ threat of being too reliant on a foreign supplier.
Shutting off electricity to a foreign country is nothing short of international gangsterism. The very idea of it shames a great democratic nation such as France.
It would be a hostile act that would put lives in danger. Without electricity, Jersey’s hospitals and many other vital services would be impaired.
*The UK Daily Mail said “8%” but last October the Times said 10% with a lot more detail. Half of the total incoming supply is from France.