France has withdrawn British Foreign Secretary Priti Patel’s invitation to a meeting in Calais, following the publication of a letter from Prime Minister Boris Johnson to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, regarding migrant passages.
In a statement issued by the AFP news agency on Friday, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said he was “disappointed” by a letter sent by Johnson to the French President and at the same time published on the British Prime Minister’s Twitter account on Thursday.
Darmanin claims that even though France was appalled by its content, its publication on social media only made matters worse. As a result, the French government has called an urgent meeting to address the increase in migrant passengers across the canal planned with Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel on Sunday.
“Priti Patel is no longer invited to the inter-ministerial meeting on Sunday, which will be held with France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission,” a senior French official told FT on Friday, confirming reports in the French press.
In his letter, Johnson had called for joint maritime patrols to prevent migrants from crossing the canal, and an agreement to return migrants who had succeeded in reaching Britain to France. “If those who reach this country were to return quickly, the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be greatly reduced.” Johnson had written.
Patel was to meet his French counterpart for a meeting in Calais after 27 migrants died during a crossing on Wednesday. France has promised to increase its own responsibility, but demanded, according to the Elysée, that Johnson not use the tragedy to bring up to date “political goals.”