Despite snub, UK presses France on migrant action

AFP , Sunday 28 Nov 2021

Britain's government on Sunday pressed anew for joint action from France to stop cross-Channel people-smugglers, brushing off anger in Paris that saw it excluded from European talks on the crisis.

file Photo: A Home Office minister has insisted that relations between France and the UK are strong. AFP

Ministers from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium will meet in the northern French port of Calais on Sunday afternoon, following the tragic deaths of 27 people last Wednesday as they attempted to cross from France to England in a fragile dinghy.

France barred Britain from the meeting after Prime Minister Boris Johnson published the text of a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron setting out London's demands for concerted action.

Those include sending illegal migrants back to France, and joint police patrols on the northern French coast.

"Those are exactly the kinds of things we need to do," Health Secretary Sajid Javid told Sky News.

Asked if it was wrong of Johnson to divulge the letter on Twitter, he insisted: "No, it wasn't.

"We all need to be doing what we can to break the business model of these people-smugglers. That does mean working closely with our friends, France," Javid said.

"Our policy is very clear: these boats must stop. We can't just do it on our own. We do need the cooperation of the French."

But ahead of the Calais meeting, Britain and France faced mounting criticism for bickering instead of working together.

"Both countries are engaged in a blame game while children drown in our Channel," Lisa Nandy, the foreign affairs spokeswoman of Britain's opposition Labour party, told Sky News.

"It's simply unconscionable," she said.

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