The Channel Island of Jersey isn't part of the United Kingdom—but it is considered part of the British Isles, and the British government has sent in gunboats amid an escalating dispute with France. Two Royal Navy vessels patrol boats were sent to the island, which lies 14 miles off the coast of France, after rumors Wednesday that 100 French vessels were planning to blockade its port, the BBC reports. Jersey, a self-governing British Crown Dependency, gets around 95% of its electricity from France, and a French minister suggested Tuesday that it could be cut off as retaliation for new post-Brexit restrictions on French fishing boats in shared waters. French officials say the boats are planning to sail to Jersey and back as a protest, but they will not be blockading the port.
Don Thompson, head of the Jersey Fishermen's Association, tells the Guardian that threats of a blockade are "pretty close to an act of war." A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday that Jersey has his "unwavering support" and that the patrol vessels are being sent as a "precaution." The new fishing arrangement, which replaces a 200-year-old treaty, was introduced Friday, Chris Le Masurier, Jersey's leading oyster and mussel fisherman, says he can understand why the French are angry. He says the government officials are an "incompetent bunch of idiots" who informed fishermen of severe new restrictions on days they could fish and then "ran out of the office." (Read more Brexit stories.)