France cancels meeting with Britain following Boris Johnson’s letter to Macron

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France has canceled a crucial meeting on the migrant crisis planned between the interior ministers Priti Patel and her French counterpart in protest of Britain’s public demands.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has scrapped his Sunday meeting with Patel, and his ministry said she was “no longer invited” to talks with European counterparts.

The Ministry described Boris Johnsonpublic letters to the President of France Emmanuel Macron – in which he called for joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French shores – as “unacceptable”.

The minister’s statement said: “We consider the British Prime Minister’s public letter to be unacceptable and contrary to our discussions between counterparties.”

It added: “Therefore, Priti Patel is no longer invited on Sunday to the inter-ministerial meeting, the format of which will be: France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission.”

The decision underscored the poor relations between the two countries and ongoing disagreements over working together to stop unsafe boat crossings, after 27 people drowned while trying to reach the British coasts on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister presented his proposals in a letter on Thursday, telling the French president that “we must go further and faster together” to address the migrant crisis.

Johnson said Britain wanted joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French shores; joint or reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters, and airborne surveillance of manned aircraft and drones.

The Prime Minister also suggested that a bilateral return agreement with France could be implemented immediately, to allow migrants to be sent back across the Channel, along with talks to establish a return agreement between the UK and the EU.

But the French Home Secretary accused Britain of “poor immigration management”, and France has criticized the British government’s measures aimed at pushing back boats in the English Channel.

Ms Patel confirmed on Thursday that she has authorized Border Police officers to use “push back” tactics to drive boats back to France, and continued to explore the idea of ​​”offshoring” the processing of asylum applications.

In a telephone conversation with Mr Darmanin, Patel also offered plainclothes British police or border guards to take part in joint patrols around the beaches used by traffickers to launch overcrowded boats.

If they operated without an arrest warrant, such officers would be able to assist with surveillance and tracking, but would have no powers to arrest, to get around Paris’ objections for sovereignty reasons.

Seventeen men, seven women and three teenagers died when a dinghy was emptied into the canal, one of many such risky journeys attempted in small, overloaded boats by people fleeing poverty and war.

It comes as French fishermen prepare to block the Channel Tunnel and major ports on Friday in a protest against fishing rights after Brexit.

The National Committee of Fishermen said they would organize protests against the tunnel and the ports of the Calais, Saint-Malo and Ouistreham canals.

In a statement, it said the action – which will take place in a few hours today – was intended to be “symbolic and non-violent”, but any protests could have a major impact on trade across the channel.

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