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In a message to his counterpart from across the Channel Priti Patel, the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said he was “disappointed” with the demands expressed by the British Prime Minister in a letter to Emmanuel Macron. And he judged “even worse” the fact that he makes them public. “Consequently, I must cancel our meeting on Sunday in Calais, I’m sure you understand why,” concluded Gérald Darmanin.

The death, Wednesday off Calais, of at least 27 migrants who were trying to reach Great Britain in the sinking of their boat, rekindled tensions between Paris and London. This is the deadliest migratory tragedy since the increase in Channel crossings in 2018, faced with the growing lockdown of the French port of Calais (northern France) and the rail tunnel, used until then.

If France and the United Kingdom seemed so far to want to silence their disagreements and improve their coordination, Boris Johnson asked Emmanuel Macron on Thursday evening to take back all migrants arriving in England from France. “I propose that we put in place a bilateral readmission agreement to allow the return of all illegal migrants crossing the Channel,” the British leader said in a letter posted on Twitter, referring to similar agreements concluded by the EU with Belarus or Russia.

“Indigent letter”

This letter is “indigent in substance and out of place”, ruled on Friday the spokesperson for the French government, Gabriel Attal, on the BFMTV channel. She “proposes this relocation agreement, this is obviously not what we need to solve this problem”, he ruled.

“We do not communicate from one leader to another on these issues by tweets and letters that we make public, we are not whistleblowers. Come on, let’s go ”, also launched Emmanuel Macron, during a press conference in Rome after the signing of a treaty with Italy.

Despite these very firm words, London asked Paris this Friday to reinstate the invitation to the British Minister of the Interior to the meeting scheduled for Sunday in Calais with the ministers responsible for Belgian, German and Dutch immigration and the European Commission. .

“No nation can tackle this alone. I hope the French will reconsider (their decision). It’s in our best interest. It’s in their best interests, ”Transport Minister Grant Shapps said on the BBC.

The meeting is “maintained”, but “without the British”, said Friday the Ministry of the Interior. “The problem goes beyond our borders. This is why we are going to work on common solutions from Sunday with our European partners ”, added in the entourage of Gérald Darmanin.

“The British government chooses to engage in domestic politics at a time when our only priority should be to avoid further tragedies in the Channel. We regret it ”, regretted the entourage of the Minister.

“Double speeches”

“There are enough of double talk and the permanent outsourcing of problems” by the United Kingdom, added Gabriel Attal. “It makes you wonder now if Boris Johnson does not regret having left Europe, because as soon as he has a problem, he considers that it is up to Europe to manage it! “.

Gabriel Attal has not commented on the issue of the Touquet agreements, which have fixed the British border on the French coast since 2004, in exchange for financial compensation.

“One can ask all the questions about the agreements, you will never be able to change neither the geography, nor the geopolitical balances nor the desire of migrants who want to go to Great Britain”, declared the spokesman of the government French.

The issue of crossings, which regularly stirs up bilateral tensions, is a delicate one for the British Conservative government, which has made the fight against immigration its hobbyhorse in the wake of Brexit.

Wednesday’s drama took place on a “long boat”, a fragile inflatable boat with a flexible bottom whose use by smugglers has increased since the summer. The boat had left from Dunkirk (north), according to a source familiar with the matter.

As of 20 November, 31,500 migrants had left the coast since the start of the year and 7,800 had been rescued. Before Wednesday’s sinking, the human toll since January had risen to three dead and four missing.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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