Now is not the time to draw battle lines against France | Letters

Gunboat diplomacy in a fishing dispute is wrong when we need to work together to tackle a pandemic, writes Rev Kenneth Cross, while John Richards says this is not worth losing a life over and Peter Hepworth blames Brexit for the tensions

Anything that even remotely looks like military involvement in a dispute between the UK and our ally and neighbour France is a matter of grave concern (UK sends navy vessels to Jersey amid post-Brexit fishing row with France, 5 May). It is a sign that relations have been profoundly eroded, and this in turn is a deep failure of diplomacy and mutual understanding. No doubt there are faults on both sides, but we can only deal with our own.

There has been peace between our two countries for over 200 years, and the peace was hard-won in Europe when we stood together in the middle of the last century amid the most terrible divisions, lies and terrors. No one is seriously saying that we are at war with France today – although such language as an “act of war” has been foolishly invoked. But that there are British armed boats near Jersey at the moment is still profoundly sad and dangerous. It is an indictment of failed politics.

This while the world is battling the worst pandemic for a century and humanity is facing the biggest environmental crisis in its history. This at a time when we need to work together, despite all our differences. We must not buy the alluring rhetoric of division – it never leads anywhere good. This is a time to work for deep and lasting reconciliation with our close neighbours and across the world.
Rev Kenneth Cross
Minehead, Somerset

• I recall two colleagues discussing the “cod wars” in the 1970s. One wanted to sink any Icelandic boat that turned up. My friend said: “This argument is not worth the life of a single person.” He was right then and he is right now.
John Richards

• Well, that didn’t take long. Seventy-five years of peace in Europe, one year of Brexit and the battle lines are already being drawn.
Peter Hepworth
Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

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