Western Europe

French interior minister cancels urgent meeting with British counterpart

13:07, 26 November 2021
French interior minister cancels urgent meeting with British counterpart Photo: pixabay.com

The move comes shortly after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested that France should accept migrants who successfully crossed the English Channel back.

France’s Minister of Interior Gérald Darmanin canceled on Friday a meeting on the migrant issue with British Home Secretary Priti Patel. The decision has been made as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson published a letter sent to French President Emmanuel Macron in which he suggested that France take back illegal migrants trying to cross the English Channel to reach the UK.

Tensions between the EU member and Britain have considerably risen after a boat carrying 31 migrants including seven women and three children wrecked in the waters of the Channel on Wednesday after it had departed from France’s northern coast near Dunkirk.

Darmanin sent on Friday a letter to his counterpart Patel in which he called Johnson’s letter a “deception” and blamed him for making it public. Following his statement, the French official canceled a meeting that was supposed to be held later on Friday with Patel and representatives of Belgium, the Netherlands, and the EU Commission.

“We regard the public letter of the British Prime Minister as inadmissible and contrary to the discussions held with our partners,” Darmanin’s representatives commented.

French Government Spokesperson Gabriel Attal added that the letter showed disrespect to the work accomplished by French coastguards, police officers, and maritime rescue services stressing that relocation of migrants would not solve the problem.

“Enough of these double talks and the problems’ externalization.”

The UK Prime Minister released the text on his Twitter account. In the letter he called on the countries to intensify cooperation and proposed several measures to stop migrants’ deaths in the Channel including deploying more forces and modern equipment to French northern beaches, establishing air surveillance, and enhancing joint work of intelligence agencies.

Johnson also proposed to sign a bilateral accord to make France accept migrants who crossed the Channel as he presumes that it will reduce or terminate attempts to reach the UK and undermine the practice of illegal human traffickers.