Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has set a 48-hour deadline for the resolution of a fishing dispute with France before the UK takes legal action. Ms Truss slammed the French for acting "unfairly" and accused them of violating the terms of the Brexit trade deal.

Fresh tensions over post-Brexit fishing rights erupted last week when French officials detained a British scallop trawler in the port of Le Havre. France has threatened to ban British vessels from entering French ports unless the UK grants more fishing licences to its vessels to fish in British waters. 

In addition, the issue has reignited a French threat to boost the price of electricity supplied via undersea cables to Jersey in the Channel Islands.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss fires broadside at China and supports Australia in keynote party speech

"The French have made absolutely irrational threats, notably against the Channel Islands and our fishing industry, which they need to withdraw" Ms Truss said, "otherwise, we will take action under the mechanisms of our trade agreement with the EU. What this means is that we will use the dispute resolution mechanism, which may lead to direct trade action."

The foreign secretary went on to say: "the French have behaved in an unfair manner that violates the terms of the trade agreement, and if someone acts unfairly in a trade agreement, you have the right to take action against them and demand compensation. If the French don't back down, that's what we'll do."

Before the UK takes legal action, Ms Truss stated that the matter "must be resolved within the next 48 hours. We must move past these irrational threats and instead work together."

France has also suggested that its own retaliatory measures might include physical checks on lorries travelling to and from the UK as part of the fishing dispute.