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And the Tory MP for Clwyd West believes France’s Minister for Europe was solely motivated by a desire to get his boss re-elected next year. Mr Jones, who is deputy chairman of the European Research Group, was speaking in response to a pointed tweet by Mr Beaune which referenced his meeting with Irish counterpart Thomas Byrne.

Mr Beaune posted: “#Brexit: New exchange this afternoon with my Irish counterpart Thomas Byrne TD.

“We defend together the application of signed agreements and European solidarity, always being united, firm and constructive.”

Mr Jones questioned Mr Beaune’s decision to post such a message at a time when Britain and France were on opposite sides of the argument in relation to both fishing access for French ships seeking to operate in UK waters, and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Specifically, he suggested the Frenchman was not exactly de-escalating tensions with his behaviour.

Mr Jones explained: “M. Beaune’s raison d’être is to get his boss, M. Macron, re-elected next year, which is why he is constantly swiping against the British.

“He thinks it will play well back home.”

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He added: “Sadly, the French appear not to understand the delicacy of the political situation in Northern Ireland.

“The Belfast / Good Friday agreement is being undermined by the Protocol.

“A sensible response would be to try to make things better.

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“M. Beaune simply makes matters worse by his intemperate talk.”

Britain and France are also at loggerheads over fishing, with Mr Macron having delayed the introduction of a serious of punitive measures targeting the UK in protest at a supposed refusal to grant sufficient licences to French boats.

Referring to France’s Maritime Minister Annick Girardin, Mr Jones said: “Beaune and Girardin are stoking that up.

“That is their entire focus these days.”

Speaking at COP26 in Glasgow on Tuesday, Boris Johnson said the row over post-Brexit fishing arrangements with France was “vanishingly unimportant” when compared with tackling climate change.

The Prime Minister insisted the UK’s position had not changed in the dispute.

Mr Johnson stressed the UK would continue to work to resolve the disagreement, which led to France threatening action against British boats before Paris backed down on Monday night.

However, speaking during a press conference at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow on Tuesday, Mr Johnson told reporters: “We are working very, very closely with our French friends and partners on the things that matter most to the people of the world, and that is tackling climate change and reducing CO2.

“By comparison with that hugely important issue, the ones you mentioned are really vanishingly unimportant, but since you ask about whether the UK has changed its position on the fishing issue, the answer is no.”

Earlier, Britain welcomed France having “stepped back” from threats to impose punitive action in the row.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said a meeting between Brexit minister Lord Frost and Mr Beaune in Paris on Thursday would be “very important”, as further talks with the EU are also scheduled.



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