France withdrew British Home Secretary Priti Patel’s invitation to a meeting in Calais, following the publication of a letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, regarding migrant crossings .
In a message seen by the AFP news agency on Friday, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he was “disappointed” by a letter sent by Johnson to the French President and simultaneously published Thursday on the British Prime Minister’s Twitter account.
Darmanin argues that while France was appalled by its content, its social media post only made matters worse. As a result, the French government has canceled an urgent meeting to deal with the increase in Channel migrant crossings that was scheduled for Sunday with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
“Priti Patel is no longer invited to the interministerial meeting on Sunday, which will take place with France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission”, a senior French official told the FT on Friday, confirming information published in the French press.
In his letter, Johnson had called for joint maritime patrols to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel and for an agreement to return migrants who successfully reach the UK in France. “If those who arrive in this country were promptly returned, the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be greatly reduced,” Johnson had written.
Patel was due to meet his French counterpart for a meeting in Calais following the death of 27 migrants during a crossing on Wednesday. France has pledged to increase its own accountability but, according to the Elysee Palace, asked Johnson not to use the tragedy to actualize “Political purposes”.
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