By Claire Gordon • 27 November 2021 • 15:11
"Emmanuel Macron" (CC BY 2.0) by Faces Of The World
Emmanuel Macron has slammed Boris Johnson as not being “serious” about the growing number of migrant crossings over the Channel as the UK prime minister took to Twitter to publish a letter to the French Government. This comes shortly after the deaths of 27 people who undertook the crossing on Wednesday 22 November.
France has now withdrawn a summit invitation to the Home Secretary Priti Patel, a move that the UK government have urged them to reconsider. Johnson said of the move: “This is a problem we have to fix together.”
Mr Macron set up this Sunday’s talks in Calais to address the recent surge in migrant crossings of the channel. Invited are Belgium, France the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission.
The spat comes against a backdrop of protest as French fishermen held a day of action on Friday 26 November. They have blocked boats from leaving ports and choked roads leading into Calais to disrupt cross-Channel traffic in protest at post-Brexit fishing rights granted by the UK.
The deaths of the 27 migrants as their inflatable dinghy sank on Wednesday was the biggest loss of life in the Channel in many years. Ahead of the meeting on Sunday, Johnson posted the letter to Mr Macron which was then shared on Twitter, setting out five steps to help avoid a repeat of the disaster.
These included joint patrols, better use of technology such as sensors and radar, maritime patrols in each other’s waters and stronger cooperation by intelligence services.
The letter also called for immediate work on a policy of returning migrants who reach the UK to France, alongside talks to establish a UK-EU returns agreement.
At a press conference, Mr Macron blasted Johnson over the sharing of the letter, saying: “I spoke two days ago with Prime Minster Johnson in a serious way. For my part, I continue to do that, as I do with all countries and all leaders. I am surprised by methods when they are not serious. We do not communicate from one leader to another on these issues by tweets and letters that we make public. We are not whistleblowers.”
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