Both countries believe the other is breaking the rules of the Brexit deal.
Our world is full of precious things. These things come in all shapes and sizes, and are both tangible (food) and intangible (weather), man-made (chairs) and natural (trees). The reasons why we like them also vary. Maybe it’s because they keep us alive, or because they make us happy, or because they make us money, or because they are just beautiful. But one aspect that most things share is that they have a kind of rarity: they can’t be used by everyone all of the time. This is why a question often asked in the heart of economics is how to share the precious things of our world.
Right now the UK and France are having a big bang on how they should share certain fish. The fish in question are located around the island of Jersey, located between the countries but in British territory. French fishing boats have long made a living from Jersey waters. But Britain has now told them they can’t get to as many places as they used to and would be allowed to fish there fewer days a year.
France says it violates the terms of the deal Brexit signed with the EU (of which France is a member). So to try to get the UK to play by the rules, he threatens to hurt Britain economically. Specifically, France says it will shut down submarine cables that run from the French mainland and supply Jersey with 95% of its electricity. It would make things difficult for the people and businesses that live there. Many of them need electricity to do their jobs, buy things, or connect with friends and family (especially this year!).
Economic punches like this can be very damaging, but they are generally considered preferable to the literal punches that countries historically use to settle scores with each other. Almost no one thinks that the UK and France will go to war over some fish. But Britain has sent a bunch of its Navy boats to the canal, suggesting it has no plans to back down from that line anytime soon.
Read our explanation on: free trade