Paris rejected the idea of a joint Franco-British Channel patrol to fight illegal immigration, with the country’s Prime Minister Jean Castex saying keeping the British army away from its borders was a question of “sovereignty”.
The formal rejection was made in a letter, sent by Castex to his British counterpart Boris Johnson. Excerpts from the letter were released to the media Thursday evening, and the full text is expected to be officially released shortly.
“We cannot accept … that British police or soldiers patrol our shores. It is a question of sovereignty and I know your government’s sensitivity to respect for the sovereignty of others ”, Castex wrote.
At the same time, the Prime Minister reaffirmed the will of Paris to continue “Operational cooperation” with London, but does not seem to outline specific measures in this area.
The document comes in response to an open letter, sent by Johnson to French President Emmanuel Macron last week. Besides the idea of joint patrols in the English Channel, the British Prime Minister also suggested returning to France all migrants who entered the UK by sea. The explosive proposal, however, was not directly addressed by Castex in the new letter.
While Johnson supported him “Would considerably reduce – if not stop – crossings”, the proposal caused an uproar in Paris. Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin, for example, said France would not be “Taken hostage by British domestic policy”, urging London to lower its “Economic attractiveness”, that Paris considers to be at the origin of the problem of illegal immigration.