France today continued to rail against Boris Johnson’s decision to post a letter to Emmanuel Macron on Twitter, as a minister called it a “mockery” and suggested his demand to take back all migrants who have crossed “exonerates the United Kingdom from all liability”.
This was a key argument in the Prime Minister’s letter to Emmanuel Macron last week, due to the belief that returning people to France so that they can seek asylum in the first safe country they arrived in would break the economic model of human traffickers.
But today Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin suggested the letter was an example of UK ministers communicating differently in public than in private amid further escalation of tensions.
He told BFMTV: “When there are serious diplomatic exchanges… and lives that are at stake… and a few minutes later you see a letter, which no one has ever mentioned before, is posted on Twitter. by the British Prime Minister to the President of the French Republic before the President of the Republic has received it, it is a bit peculiar.
“When in this letter the English say that the French should ‘take back their migrants, all their migrants’, it is a parody. ”
Boris Johnson wrote last week to Emmanuel Macron to ask France to take back all the migrants who had crossed the Channel. But his decision to post it on Twitter initially infuriated the French.
He added that Franco-British relations were not currently “normal” and that “our private exchanges are not always in line with our public exchanges”, before blaming the “black economy” of the United Kingdom for be a factor of attraction for migrants.
Previously, he had tweeted: “When Mr Johnson says France must ‘take back its migrants”, what he is really asking is that France exonerate him from any responsibility to receive them.
“The British government must take its responsibilities. ”
His comments came after it emerged that Priti Patel had reached an agreement with Dutch ministers that migrants should be returned to the first country they arrive after opening direct talks with EU ministers after the death of at least 27 people last week.
The French government banned Miss Patel from attending a Calais summit after President Macron took offense at an alleged breach of protocol.
Despite her temper tantrum, the Home Office said Miss Patel spoke with her Dutch counterpart yesterday and secured crucial reform deals.
A spokesperson said the two ministers acknowledged that the return agreements – allowing migrants to be returned from the UK to other EU countries – were “key to breaking the criminal business model” being exploited. by organized crime gangs who charge over £ 3,000 per illegal passage.
France has repeatedly refused to consider an agreement on the return of migrants from the United Kingdom.
Today Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin suggested the letter was an example of UK ministers communicating differently in public than in private in a further escalation of tensions.
A source from Whitehall said: “We will have more discussions with our counterparts this week on how we can work together to resolve this crisis on a European scale. Priti’s Nationality and Borders Bill is the first step in addressing the failing asylum system and the pull factors it creates.
At yesterday’s meeting, France agreed to authorize aerial surveillance of its coastline by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency from Wednesday. France had repeatedly rejected offers for aerial reconnaissance aircraft from the United Kingdom.
The bitter war of the briefing
Piti Patel’s decisive action to deal with the Channel crisis follows criticism from the government.
Sources yesterday denounced the Minister of the Interior on the time it took to resolve the problem of migrants crossing the north of France.
They also accused Miss Patel of “disappearing” when things went wrong in her department.
“She has had two years to fix this problem, but the situation is worse than ever,” a source told the Mail on Sunday. Another said: “She spoke well – but she has yet to deliver. “
But an Interior Ministry insider argued that Emmanuel Macron’s crisis last week, after the prime minister released a five-point action plan, showed France was blocking its efforts. “People say she should be in control and now they can all see for themselves what she is up against,” they said.
A Downing Street source said: “The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Home Secretary.
A UK government source said: ‘We want close collaboration and we want to work together. For that to happen, we have to be around the table.
A spokesperson for the Home Office said Miss Patel had spoken to Dutch Migration Minister Ankie Broekers-Knol and that they “agreed that the tragic incidents last week demonstrated the need for the partners Europeans to work together ”.
The spokesperson added: “The Minister of the Interior said it was regrettable that she was not present at [the] meeting of interior ministers in Calais to discuss this issue.
“The Home Secretary and the Migration Minister discussed ideas for enhanced bilateral and European cooperation, including the need to tackle the criminal gangs orchestrating these deadly journeys through shared intelligence and initiatives law enforcement spouses. The two agreed that return agreements are key to breaking the criminal business model.
Talks with other nations are scheduled for this week, it is understood. Three children, seven women and 17 men died off Calais on Wednesday last week as they attempted to reach the UK from northern France.
Mr Macron criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday for posting a five-point action plan on Twitter. This led Mr. Darmanin to withdraw Miss Patel’s invitation to yesterday’s talks.
The Home Secretary wrote in The Sun on Sunday: “We have to be creative to find new solutions that will have the maximum impact possible, which is why the Prime Minister and I are ready to discuss the proposals with our French counterparts at all times. “
Health Secretary and former Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the Prime Minister’s strategy – including joint Anglo-French patrols and return agreements – was “exactly the sort of thing we need to do. “. “Our policy is very clear: these boats must stop. We need the cooperation of the French, ”he told Sky News.
More than 26,500 migrants have reached British shores since the start of the year, up from just 8,410 in 2020.
His comments came after it emerged that Priti Patel had reached an agreement with Dutch ministers that migrants should be returned to the first country they arrive after opening direct talks with EU ministers.