Migrant crossings: France rejects Boris Johnson’s call for joint Franco-British patrols in the Channel

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Deaths in the Channel: who are the migrants crossing Kent from France and where do they come from?


France rejected the idea of ​​a joint Franco-British Channel patrol to deal with the growing number of migrants crossing – but said Parisian officials were “ready to continue our operational cooperation” with the UK.

Writing to Boris Johnson, French Prime Minister Jean Castex told his British counterpart that his country “cannot accept” either “British police or military patrols on our coasts” as “a matter of sovereignty”.

A spokesperson for Number 10 said UK ministers “stand ready to discuss all options in the spirit of our close cooperation and partnership”.

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France and UK engaged in diplomatic row over how best to deal with Channel migrant crisis

It comes after the British Prime Minister suggested earlier this month that a joint coastal patrol of the Channel by British and French officials could help prevent dangerous crossings.

In a letter To French President Emmanuel Macron Mr Johnson last month said the move could prevent the death.

A total of 27 people lost their lives in Manche last week after the sinking of their rubber dinghy off the French coast.

Among the publicly identified dead were a pregnant woman, children and a 24-year-old Kurdish woman from northern Iraq trying to find her fiance.

It was the worst tragedy since the start of the current crisis.

Writing a letter to Mr Johnson, Mr Castex said the UK should do more to discourage irregular migration, adding that the French cannot be solely responsible for policing those desperate to reach the United Kingdom and who spend “only a few days and sometimes a few hours” in France.

The French Prime Minister wrote that Paris cannot accept “the UK practice of refoulement”, which he said “endangers the lives of migrants and does not comply with the law of the sea”.

But Mr Castex added that France will continue to cooperate with Britain on the issue of migrant crossings.

“We have always agreed to examine and discuss in good faith the British proposals for closer cooperation. We have accepted some, we have declined others.

“There have always been good reasons for this: we cannot accept, for example, British police or military patrolling our shores; it is a question of sovereignty, and I know how sensitive your government is to respecting individual sovereignty. accept the UK practice of refoulement at sea, which would endanger the lives of migrants and be inconsistent with the law of the sea.

“Instead, we want to see increased intelligence sharing, including in our Joint Operations Research Unit (JORU), and we continue to deploy an ever-increasing number of reservists to our coastline. “

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The French leader appeared exasperated after Boris Johnson tweeted a letter about migrants crossing the Channel.

Mr. Castex added that France plans to initiate discussions with the United Kingdom on a new framework “which could include a virtuous transfer mechanism between the United Kingdom and the European Union”.

“I hope that our cooperation can continue in a constructive spirit of mutual trust,” he concluded.

A spokesperson for Number 10 said: “The devastating events of the past week were a tragic reminder of the dangers of these crossings and, like our French neighbors, the British government is determined to prevent further loss of life in the English Channel. .

“We are ready to discuss all options in the spirit of our close cooperation and partnership, and as a shared global challenge, it is vital that we collectively and urgently tackle illegal migration. “

The letter comes after a French newspaper reported that President Macron called Mr Johnson a “clown” in charge of a “circus” amid the deterioration in relations sparked by the migrant crisis.

The comments were reportedly made hours after 27 people drowned in the English Channel.

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Channel survivor remembers other people’s drowning

The president is said to have said: “It’s sad to see such a big country, with which we could do so many things, run by a clown. “

The derogatory speech came after No.10 insisted that Mr Johnson and Mr Macron have a close ‘working relationship’.

It follows a diplomatic row over how best to tackle the Channel’s migrant crisis.

Downing Street continued to insist on a return agreement, as Mr Johnson said in a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron last week that infuriated Paris, would be the “greatest deterrent” for migrants attempting to travel at sea.

A return agreement with the European Union would allow the UK to return people to the member state where their trip originated, such as France or elsewhere, if their asylum claims are rejected after arriving in Grande -Brittany.

London pushed for such a deal during Brexit talks, but Brussels declined the offer.

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Thusday, Minister of the Interior Priti Patel met Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese in Rome to discuss the current migrant crossings crisis.

“The two agreed that there should be a swift discussion on a new European-wide initiative of cooperation to fight organized crime in immigration matters,” said a statement from the Home Office.

“They also agreed on the importance of returns to third countries and readmission agreements between the UK and Europe as an important part of the overall effort to tackle the problem of irregular migration. “

The Nationality and Borders Bill, which contains proposals for reforming asylum and immigration laws, is currently under consideration in parliament.

The bill would make it a criminal offense to assist an asylum seeker to enter the UK.

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