France attacks latest British proposal on migrants
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France reacts angrily to Britain’s latest proposals to deal with murderous flow of migrants between their shores
CALAIS, France – France reacted with fury on Friday to Britain’s latest proposals to deal with the deadly flow of migrants between their coasts as the war of words between the two countries over dangerous Channel crossings s ‘intensified further.
In a public letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson presented a series of proposals on how the two countries can cope with the crisis, following the sinking of a boat on Wednesday which caused 27 dead.
The letter, which was made public on social media, was deemed “unacceptable” by French government spokesman Gabriel Attal. As a result, he said UK Home Secretary Priti Patel was no longer welcome at a European meeting on Sunday to discuss the issue.
“We are fed up with double talk,” Attal said.
Attal dismissed the idea as “clearly not what we need to solve this problem”.
He said the letter “does not correspond at all” to discussions Johnson and Macron had on Wednesday after the tragedy.
Johnson has also made proposals for UK border officials to start patrolling beaches in northern France as early as next week – something Paris has long resisted. He also recommended joint or reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters and airborne surveillance by manned flights and drones.
UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Johnson had made the proposals in “good faith” and urged the French to reconsider their decision.
“I don’t think there is anything inflammatory about asking for close cooperation with our nearest neighbors,” he told BBC radio. “The proposal was made in good faith. I can assure our French friends of that and I hope they will reconsider meeting to discuss it.
The French decision marks a sharp deterioration in relations between the two countries, which for weeks have been increasingly strained by the migration crisis in the Channel.
British officials have criticized France for rejecting their offer from British police and border officials to conduct joint patrols along the Channel coast with French police. French authorities say Britain is fueling the crisis because it is too easy for migrants to stay in the country and work if they manage to cross the Channel.
More than 23,000 people have already entered the UK on small boats this year, up from 8,500 last year and just 300 in 2018, according to data compiled by Parliament.
Pylas reported from London.
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