France’s Macron tells Britain to ‘get serious’ about canal’s migrant crisis

  • Britain wants joint patrols, urges France to take back migrants
  • Macron says Johnson’s letter is not serious
  • Britain, France blame trade over death of 27 migrants at sea

PARIS, Nov 26 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron told Britain on Friday it must “get serious” or stay out of discussions on how to stem the flow of migrants escaping war and poverty across the Channel.

France previously canceled an invitation to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to attend a meeting on the issue in Calais, underscoring how fraught its relations with Britain have become, with post-Brexit trade rules and fishing rights also applied to stand the game. read more

“I’m surprised when things aren’t done seriously, we don’t communicate between leaders through tweets or published letters, we’re not whistleblowers. Come on. Come on,” Macron said at a press conference in Rome.

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Macron responded to a letter from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which British leader told “Dear Emmanuel” what he thought needed to be done to prevent migrants from making the perilous journey.

Johnson, who previously said France was guilty, insisted in the letter that it agrees to joint patrols on its shores and agrees to take back the migrants reaching Britain. read more

Enraged by the letter, not least by the fact that Johnson published it on Twitter, the French government canceled an invitation to Patel to attend a meeting on Sunday to discuss with EU ministers how to tackle immigration.

Johnson’s spokesman said he published the letter to inform the public what the government was doing and did not regret it, but hoped France would reconsider the invitation to the talks.

“This is an issue we take extremely seriously,” Johnson’s spokesman said of the migrant crisis.

The growing spat between Britain and France follows the deaths of 27 migrants trying to cross the narrow sea lane between the two countries, the worst tragedy ever in one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. read more

Relations between the traditional allies are already tense, including over a recent submarine deal with Australia that replaced the one with France, and they have already accused each other of not properly managing immigration.

“We’ve had enough of (London) double talk,” government spokesman Gabriel Attal said, adding that Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin “told his counterpart she was no longer welcome.”


Sunday’s migration meeting will continue, without Patel but with ministers from Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and European Commission officials, Macron said.

“The (EU) ministers will work seriously to solve serious problems with serious people,” he said. “We will then see how we can move forward efficiently with the British, if they decide to get serious,” Macron added.

When Britain left the EU, it was no longer able to use the bloc’s system to send migrants back to the first member state they entered.

According to the BBC, the number of migrants crossing the Channel has risen to 25,776 so far in 2021, up from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019.

Before Wednesday’s disaster this year, 14 people had drowned trying to reach Britain, a French official said. In 2020, seven people died and two disappeared, while four died in 2019.

Rights groups say that while the fight against people smugglers is essential, France and Britain’s migration policies are also responsible for the deaths, pointing to a lack of legal migration routes and added security at the Eurotunnel undersea rail link, which encourages migrants to the dangerous crossing by sea.

“The result of what happened yesterday, we can say that it was due to smugglers, but it is above all the responsibility of this deadly migration policy, we see this every day,” said Marwa Mezdour, who coordinates a migrant association in Calais, in a statement. vigil, where people laid candles in honor of those who died trying to cross into Britain.

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Reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Richard Lough, Ingrid Melander, Ardee Napolitano; Editing by Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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