It was this latest proposal – which effectively replicates a deal made by the UK while in the EU – that seemed to particularly irritate Mr Macron’s team, as well as the way the letter became public. .
Mr Macron said: “I am surprised by methods when they are not serious. One leader does not communicate with another on these matters on Twitter, by public letter. “
Gabriel Attal, spokesperson for the French government, said in a television interview about the letter: “We are fed up with double talk”, adding that it was “both poor in substance and totally inappropriate in the style “.
Mr Attal also said: ‘We are fed up with the way they externalize problems. We wonder if Boris Johnson does not regret having left Europe because every time there is a problem, he considers that Europe must manage it. But that’s not how it works. “
Return agreement similar to the Dublin regulation
At the heart of some criticism of France was the suggestion that the UK had chosen Brexit with the promise to ‘regain control’ of its border, but was now trying to re-enact an EU measure it had. left behind.
While in the EU, the UK benefited from the Dublin Regulation, which states that an asylum seeker should normally have their application processed in the first EU country in which they arrived.
This meant, theoretically, that an asylum seeker would be returned to that country if they moved to another EU country while awaiting a decision.
Mr Johnson’s suggestion that a bilateral “return agreement” should be signed with France, according to which migrants arriving on British shores after crossing the Channel should be returned to France, is seen by critics as a attempt to establish a version of the Dublin Regulation.
Pierre-Henri Dumont, deputy for Calais, said he was “surprised” by the Prime Minister’s request for a return agreement with France.
He said: ‘What we are facing right now is the consequences of Brexit. The UK has left the Dublin Agreement.
“So it’s a bit strange that whoever pushed for Brexit is now asking for something that was contained in EU membership. “
Michel Barnier, the former Brexit negotiator for the European Commission, said: “This is obviously an additional provocation from Boris Johnson. He is in a state of mind of confrontations on all subjects with the EU.
“This very serious issue deserves much better treatment than controversy and confrontation. “
But a Home Office source argued that the Dublin regulation never worked as intended as long as the UK was in the EU.
“Dublin didn’t work. It doesn’t work for France, it doesn’t work for us, it doesn’t work for countries across Europe. So actually, I don’t think that’s a fair review, ”the source said.