We can have British guards on French beaches by next week, Boris Johnson tells Emmanuel Macron| Today Headlines
We can have British guards on French beaches by next week, Boris Johnson tells Emmanuel Macron
| Today Headlines | Local News
Boris Johnson wrote to Emmanuel Macron to officially propose joint patrols on French beaches as early as next week to stop small boats carrying migrants to the United Kingdom.
In a letter outlining the UK’s plans after the drowning of 27 people in the English Channel, Mr Johnson also calls for a new “return agreement” between the two countries.
The deal, if accepted by Paris, would see migrants arriving on British shores illegally returned to France, with London in turn welcoming more migrant children with British family ties.
Downing Street sees the pact as the best long-term solution to the growing problem with boat crossings, as it would undermine smugglers promising a route to the UK.
A senior government source said: “A returns deal would be the greatest deterrent against these crimes. If migrants who cross the Channel illegally are sent back to France, this completely breaks up the smuggling gangs.
Other British proposals include more sensors on French beaches, better airborne surveillance, additional maritime patrols and more in-depth joint intelligence work.
The letter will be seen as an attempt to advance constructive discussions after days of finger-pointing between British and French politicians in the wake of the Channel tragedy.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, urged Mr Johnson in an appeal Thursday evening “to refrain from exploiting a tragic situation for political ends,” according to a reading from the Elysee Palace.
Hours earlier, Mr Johnson had called on France to ‘step up’ and do more with the UK to stop small boats, saying ‘we have had difficulty persuading some of our partners, especially the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves ”.
Discussions are complicated by tensions in relations over other issues, such as the number of British fishing licenses granted to the French, a deadlock over trade tensions in Northern Ireland caused by Brexit and the recent pact on sub -nuclear navies Australia-United Kingdom-United States. .
French fishermen are expected to block the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel on Friday amid the dispute over fishing licenses in British waters.
Cabinet ministers are among those in the UK who believe Mr Macron has lent a hand in recent political disputes to bolster support in his country ahead of his candidacy for re-election next spring – an accusation of politicization that ministers French also launched in Downing Street.
There were signs on Thursday that the talks were getting more constructive. Officials from the Ministry of the Interior will travel to France on Friday for discussions on broader cooperation between the two countries on migrants from the Channel.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is expected to attend a meeting of EU immigration ministers on Sunday to discuss measures to address the migration crisis facing Europe.
France is concerned about the number of Channel migrants entering through Belgium, often on the day of their intended crossing, exploiting the EU’s open borders.
Mr Johnson’s letter doubles Ms Patel’s offer – made last week and repeated on Thursday – for UK police, border officials or even troops to patrol French beaches.
There are fears within Whitehall that French authorities have not done enough to prevent boats of asylum seekers in the UK from being launched from their shores.
The Prime Minister proposes that those responsible for the border forces join the French in such patrols as soon as possible, potentially as early as Monday.
They are expected to be unable to make arrests, but could help monitor potential launch points and deter smugglers.
It is not known whether the French will accept the suggestion. Some French politicians said on Thursday the idea could undermine French sovereignty.
Another option Downing Street is open to is to use private security to help with patrols. Home Office sources have played down the likelihood of British troops being involved.
Plan to dismantle human trafficking networks
Speaking during a visit to Croatia on Thursday, Mr Macron said he would hold the UK to account and reiterated his call for more help in the fight against smugglers.
“We are going to ask for additional help from the British because these men and women do not want to obtain asylum in France” despite the existence of centers where they could apply in Calais and Dunkirk, he said.
“Basically we have to develop [relations] with our partners and hold them to account. We have to develop things in a much stronger way, we have to strengthen cooperation – cooperation [with] Belgium, Holland, Germany, but also Great Britain and [European] Commission. “
France wants to work more closely with Britain to dismantle human trafficking networks, the president added.
Jean Castex, his Prime Minister, also held a crisis meeting with ministers on Thursday to discuss new measures and invited British, Belgian, Dutch and German immigration ministers to a meeting in Calais on Monday.
The talks would aim to “better combat the networks of smugglers who are at the origin of these migratory flows”, insisting that a response at “European level” was necessary, said his office.
Both sides agree that more needs to be done to break down smuggling networks, many of whom are based in the UK, according to French Home Secretary Gerald Darmanin.
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