The situation in Jersey is rapidly spiralling out of control and dominating the headlines. But once again, the Lib Dems have surpassed themselves in responding terribly to a crisis that offered them a chance to win over voters.
After a predictable post-Brexit mix-up on fishing rights in the Channel, France’s maritime minister Annick Girardin hit back. Girardin threatened to pull the plug on Jersey’s energy supply – a worrying threat given the island gets 95 per cent of its power from the continent. This was a ridiculous, over-the-top response to what has been happening as the new fishing regime takes effect. Brexit was a situation that was always going to require a measure of diplomacy on all sides. France’s government has acted childishly – and Britain is right to condemn Girardin.
Unfortunately, the British government has also gone too far in its response – making matters worse by sending in the navy. It hardly goes without saying that this won’t help calm things down.
And now, the Lib Dems have entered into the debate. Layla Moran, the MP who handles the foreign affairs brief for the party, gave a statement on the Jersey situation this morning:
‘This gunboat diplomacy is an admission of failure by this Government. The real question is how did they let it even get to this stage. France is a partner and a friend. When our governments disagree we should resolve our differences with grown up conversation and negotiation, not with cannons in the Channel. Sending in the Navy risks escalating the situation rather than what is needed which is calm and cool heads. I urge the Government to rethink their strategy.’
Notice the absence of a key word in that press release: Brexit. There is no mention at all of why this row is happening in the first place.