BORIS Johnson’s swift slap down of Emmanuel Macron over fishing helped prevent a trade war with France, officials believe.
The French president was scared off by the PM’s threat to sue over any disruption at Calais.
Downing Street thinks it has a watertight legal case against any reprisals – and that both Paris and Brussels know it.
France’s outspoken Europe minister Clement Beaune last night insisted punishment plans are still on the table.
And he vowed Paris won’t sanction a “trade off” between fishing access and fewer Northern Ireland border checks.
But in a big softening of tone he said the threat of reprisals could be shelved for weeks while talks continue.
He added: “As long as dialogue seems possible we are giving it a chance. We need to accelerate progress.”
No 10 welcomed the climbdown, which came as a Scottish trawler seized by the French a week ago finally returned home.
Brexit enforcer Lord Frost travelled to Paris yesterday for crunch talks with Mr Beaune over the fishing licence row.
Both sides said there was no new progress but the discussions helped clear the air.
The pair will speak again next week.
Lord Frost will also meet EU chief Maros Sefcovic in Brussels today for talks on fishing and the thorny NI row.