The UK government has contradicted French claims that both sides had agreed to defuse a row over post-Brexit fishing rights, insisting it was up to Paris to back down.

"If the French government want to come forward with proposals to de-escalate the threats they have made, we would absolutely welcome them," UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman told reporters.

"Our position has not changed," he said, after Mr Johnson met French President Emmanuel Macron earlier today for a short meeting on the margins of the G20 summit in Rome.

Mr Macron's office said afterwards the leaders had agreed to work on "practical and operational measures" to resolve the dispute in the coming days.

They were united on the need for a "de-escalation" with concrete action to come "as soon as possible", it said.

But the Downing Street spokesman said no further contacts or specific measures were planned by London.

The wrangle over fishing access escalated this week after French authorities accused a Scottish-registered scallop dredger of fishing without a licence

France is incensed that Britain and the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey have not issued some French boats licences to fish in their waters since Brexit took full effect at the start of 2021.

Paris has vowed that unless more licences are approved, it will ban UK boats from unloading their catches at French ports from Tuesday, and even impose checks on all products brought to France from Britain.

Last week, it detained a British trawler that was allegedly fishing illegally in its waters.

Mr Johnson's spokesman said the UK would continue to process applications by French and other EU fishing vessels to ply its waters based on technical data, not on threats.

"We stand ready to work with the French government and individual fishermen if they have the requisite data.

"There's no further work to be done."

Mr Johnson's own focus in the meeting with Mr Macron was on persuading the EU to amend a post-Brexit protocol governing trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the spokesman added.

He also said a strongly worded letter from French Prime Minister Jean Castex, urging Brussels to punish Britain over Brexit, was "not helpful".

"And it is concerning when we are trying to negotiate important changes to the Protocol that are having real impacts on the lives of people and businesses in Northern Ireland," the spokesman said.