Monday, 20 Sep 2021

Macron warned ‘other areas going to suffer’ if France ignores demands on Channel crossings

Migrant crossings: 'Other areas of France will suffer' says Parry

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Britain and France have become embroiled in a war of words over efforts to tackle migrants crossing the Channel by boat. The French interior minister Gerald Darmanin hit back at Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday amid reports she had sanctioned tactics to turn back migrant boats towards the continent to stop them from making the journey to the UK. Political commentator Chris Parry insisted the UK should hold leverage over France in a subtle warning to Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Parry said: “It seems to me we have to apply pressure to France in other areas where they’re seeking out cooperation.

“We’re an independent country, we’re not in the European Union anymore and we’ve got to look for leverage in other areas.

“If France doesn’t cooperate with us in the Channel to make it safe and secure then there are other areas where our relationship is going to suffer.

“I think it’s really important to let the French know that.

“It’s not a difficult job to patrol the stretch of coastline on the opposite side of the Channel.

“The French aren’t doing enough. There isn’t a political will though either locally or nationally.

“I’m afraid we’ve got to start talking to them straight.”

His comments come as Home Secretary Priti Patel met her French counterpart during the G7 interior ministers’ meeting at Lancaster House in London.

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The suggestion has prompted an outcry from aid charities and campaigners who branded the plan “cowardly” and “cruel” and one which could risk the lives of migrants, while the legality of the tactic has been called into question.

Mr Darmanin said France would not accept any practices which breach maritime laws and that the country would not be subjected to financial blackmail.

Earlier this week Government sources confirmed Ms Patel told MPs she was prepared to withhold millions of pounds of cash promised to France to help step up patrols unless an improvement in the number of migrants intercepted by French authorities is seen.

The pair met on Wednesday to discuss the migrant crossings during the three-day G7 interior minister’s meeting at Lancaster House in London.

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A Government source said the meeting was “constructive”, adding: “The Home Secretary was clear with the French interior minister that the British public expect to see results.”

But less than 24 hours later, according to translations of his posts on Twitter, Mr Darmanin said: “France will not accept any practice contrary to maritime laws, or financial blackmail.”

He said he had made it clear to his equivalent Ms Patel that the arrangements with Britain must remain, adding: “The friendship between our two countries deserves better than postures which harm cooperation between our services.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman rejected the claims of “financial blackmail” and said the Government has “provided our French counterparts significant sums of money previously, and we’ve agreed another bilateral agreement backed by millions of pounds”.

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