French-British Relations Worsen After Migrant Disaster
Relations between France and the United Kingdom have reached a dangerous low in the past week after 27 migrants drowned Wednesday night while crossing the English Channel from France in search of a new life on British land.
The following day after the tragic accident, 62 migrants landed in the UK by boat, while France halted 30. These events in recent weeks have now called for both countries to meet and address the issues regarding the migrant crisis, yet French-British relations have indeed deteriorated since Britain’s exit from the European Union.
To make matters worse, UK’s home secretary Priti Patel, shifted the responsibility to France concerning migrants crossing the border, implying that British efforts have tried to meet France’s border responsibilities, yet to no avail.
“I’ve offered to work with France to put officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by getting into unseaworthy boats,” said Patel to the House of Commons.
However, French president Emmanuel Macron responded by furthering the lack of connectivity and efforts between the two countries, however contrasted Patel’s statements by off-handing responsibility back to the British.
“We ask for additional mobilisation from the British. Because I remind you, when it comes to this, we are holding the border for the British,” clarified Macron.
Following that, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote to Macron on Thursday outlining five potential solutions to the current dangers regarding the migrant crisis, in which he tweeted the letter on social media, resulting in Macron criticizing Johnson’s actions shortly after at a press conference.
In the letter, Johnson proposed for ‘joint or reciprocal maritime patrol operations’ in each other’s territorial waters,’ and further, yet the most insulting to Macron was UK’s suggestion for France to take back the migrants that had crossed the waters.
In addition, The Guardian confirmed with French officials that Macron did not see the letter meant for him until Johnson published it on social media via Twitter, which further strained the co-operation.
“We do not communicate from one leader to another on these issues by tweets and letters that we make public. We are not whistleblowers. Come on. Come on,” said Macron at a Friday press conference.
To make matters worse, UK’s home secretary Patel was disinvited to a meeting of European officials today, held in Calais, France which lies near the Channel. German, Belgian, Dutch ministers along with representatives of the European Commission convened with French officials to discuss the next course of action in the alarming migrant crisis. Regardless of Patel’s revoked participation, British officials were still present in the meeting.
“The UK cannot tackle this issue alone, and across Europe we all need to step up, take responsibility, and work together in a time of crisis,” said Patel. “
“We will not shy away from the challenge we face, and next week I will continue to push for greater cooperation with European partners because a failure to do so could result in even worse scenes in the freezing water during the coming winter months,” added the home secretary.
Image Attribution: “Boris Johnson and President Macron Resistance anniversary” by UK Prime Minister is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0