The French President urges the UK to address the Channel Migrant Crisis
Emmanuel Macron has responded strongly to Boris Johnson's public request for France to accept migrants who arrive in the UK.
President Macron said British officials must “get serious” about stopping migration from war-torn countries across the Channel or they will be excluded from negotiations.
The spat began after France refused to invite British Home Secretary Priti Patel to a conference. Priti Patel was invited to attend a meeting on the migrant issue in Calais, but the invitation has been withdrawn by France. There is no denying how tense ties now are, with post-Brexit trading rules and fishing rights also at stake.
In a sign of the escalating diplomatic tensions, the French president has slammed the United Kingdom's decision to submit a five-point proposal through Twitter instead of setting up bilateral talks.
A letter to Macron was sent as a tweet and made it onto the front pages of UK newspapers. Working on a policy to return migrants to France who arrived in the UK, as well as developing a UK-EU returns agreement, was mandated by the letter.
The dispute arose following the death on Wednesday of 27 migrants attempting to cross the narrow strait between the two countries.
Migration across the English Channel has increased significantly in recent years. According to data from the British government, migrants have crossed the English Channel in 2021 at a rate of over 25500, up from 8400 in 2020, and 1835, in 2019.
During a press conference on Friday, Macron said he had a serious conversation with Prime Minister Johnson two days ago. The French President stated that he will continue to pursue the issue as he does with all countries and leaders, but when their approach is not serious, he gets surprised.
He went on to say, we don't communicate about these issues between leaders by public tweets and letters." We do not regard ourselves as whistleblowers. As a response to a letter from the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the French President outlined steps designed to discourage migrants from making the perilous journey across the sea that separates the two countries.
Belgium, Netherland, Germany, and the European Commission ministers will attend the talks in Calais on Sunday, which President Macron set up to address the recent rise in migrant crossings across the Channel. However, now the meeting will take place with Patel.
France's interior minister, Gérard Darmanin, wrote to Patel on Sunday informing her that the meeting would proceed without British participation. Darmanin told Patel Johnson's letter to Macron was a "disappointment" since it called on France to return migrants who crossed the Channel.
In response to Johnson's social media posting of the letter, he said: "It was even worse making it public. As a result, we must cancel our Calais meeting on Sunday. Prime Minister Johnson, who has previously said France was to blame, demanded in his letter that France agree to joint patrols on its shores and accept the return of migrants who reach Britain.
In response to the cancellation of Patel's invitation, Boris Johnson's office said the British prime minister takes the matter "extremely seriously" and hopes France will reconsider cancelling Patel's invitation.
British Government Response
Boris Johnson does not regret sending the letter to Macron or sharing it on Twitter, according to his spokesman. In addition, he states he wrote it "in the spirit of partnership and cooperation" and posted it online so the public could learn what the government is doing.
Traditional allies are already in a state of tension, with the UK, United States and Australia recently signing a submarine deal that replaced a deal they had with France, as well as accusing each other of improper immigration management.
French Government Response
Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for the French government, said the French government was tired of double-talk from London. Adding that Gerald Darmanin told his counterpart she was no longer welcome, Said Attal.
Macron said European Ministers will work seriously to resolve serious issues with serious people. Once the British decided to get serious, we will see what we can do to move forward effectively with them.
Following its exit from the EU, Britain is no longer able to use the EU's process for returning migrants to their first country of entry.
United Nation High Commission on Recent Tensions
On the recent spat between the two European giants William Saltmarsh, UNHCR spokesman urged France and Britain to work together. Saltmarsh stressed the importance of cooperation between the two countries as well as between the UK and Europe. He said it is important to try to crush the smuggler's rings, since they have had to adapt so much in the last few months.
Written By: Olivium's Staff.