Le Premier ministre français Jean Castex a déclaré à son homologue britannique Boris Johnson que le Royaume-Uni détenait "une grande partie de la solution" à la crise des migrants en Manche et rejetait l'idée de patrouilles frontalières conjointes, selon une lettre vue par l'AFP jeudi. </p><div> <p>Castex a écrit à Johnson mercredi soir pour exposer les suggestions de la France pour empêcher les migrants de traverser la Manche dans de petits bateaux à la suite d'une tragédie la semaine dernière au cours de laquelle au moins 27 personnes se sont noyées.
He formally rejected an idea proposed by Johnson of British security forces patrolling the French coast to prevent dinghies from taking on water.
“We cannot accept (…) that the police or the British soldiers patrol our coasts. It’s a question of sovereignty and I know the sensitivity of your government to respecting the sovereignty of others, ”Castex wrote.
The letter did not directly address another controversial Johnson idea of returning all migrants who cross the Channel by sea to France, which the British Prime Minister said would “dramatically reduce – if not stop – crossings”.
He said France would work on a migration deal between Britain and the European Union “which could include a virtuous transfer mechanism”.
“Sending migrants back to us is not an option and is not a serious or responsible way to tackle the problem,” one of the Castex collaborators said Thursday, asking not to be named.
Franco-British relations, already considered to be at their lowest in decades, plunged again after the massive drownings of November 24.
Johnson made proposals in a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron last week that were seen in Paris as an attempt to blame France.
His decision to make the letter public before Macron read it was seen as a violation of diplomatic protocol, with the French president later condemning his approach as “not serious.”
In retaliation, an invitation to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to attend a meeting of EU ministers in France this weekend to discuss migration has been withdrawn.
According to Wednesday’s Canard Enchainé newspaper, Macron called Johnson a “clown” as well as a “knucklehead” in private conversations with assistants last week.
“It’s a pretty pointless word,” UK Business Secretary George Freeman told Sky News on Thursday.
“Of course the Prime Minister is not a clown, he is the elected Prime Minister of this country with a very large mandate, leading this country through the pandemic. “
Castex’s letter to Johnson, shared with reporters a day after it was sent, was heavily worded, but began by saying that “every country must take responsibility” in tackling the Channel crossings.
He said France was deploying 700 police officers to patrol its northern coast, while 41 smuggling networks had been dismantled since the start of the year and 1,552 suspected smugglers had been arrested.
He adds, however, that “the management of the reception of migrants who wish to go to your country is primarily the responsibility of France, which is not normal”.
He also recognized that other members of the European Union such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany must do more to combat migrant smuggling and illegal migration.
But he specifies that “a large part of the solution is not to be found in France, but in the United Kingdom”.
Castex urged Britain to adopt “a more effective return policy” to deport failed asylum seekers, as well as open legal migration routes for “those who have legitimate reasons for wanting to come to your country “.
“Only you can ensure that your labor market is sufficiently controlled to discourage people wishing to work illegally,” he wrote.
He also warned Britain against pushing back migrant boats, an option which has been discussed by the London government, saying it would “endanger the lives of migrants and violate maritime law”.
In addition, France wanted better sharing of intelligence from the United Kingdom, in particular to strengthen a shared intelligence center in northern France.
“We have noticed that Britain is providing little for him,” said the Prime Minister’s assistant.
A second aide denied that France was seeking to transfer responsibility for the crossings to London.
“We don’t approach this as a blame game. We approach it as a shared responsibility, ”said the assistant.
France is regularly criticized by human rights groups for refusing entry to asylum seekers at its southern border with Italy.