Sunday 5 December 2021

France Says ‘Non’ to British Proposals to End Channel Migrant Crisis

 The Prime Minister of France has rejected proposals from Boris Johnson which he hoped might end the ongoing channel migrant crisis.

The Prime Minister of France, Jean Castex, has rejected a number of proposals from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that aimed at solving the ongoing migrant crisis in the English Channel.

The proposals, which were first published online in an open letter, asked the French to consider allowing joint patrols between the two countries to occur within French territory, as well as an agreement to take back any migrants that crossed the Channel illegally — thus strongly disincentivising them from gathering in northern France to attempt to journeys in the first place.

According to a report by the AFP, however, both of these requests have been rejected in a response letter penned by Prime Minister Castex.

Castex, who was appointed to his office by President Emmanuel Macron, claimed that his response letter was penned in good faith, saying that the French had chosen to accept some of the proposals presented by Johnson but reject others.

“We cannot accept, for example, that British police or military patrol our shores,” Castex wrote, claiming that “Our sovereignty is at stake.”

“More than 700 police officers and gendarmes survey the Opal Coast every day, to prevent makeshift boats from going to sea,” Castex continued. “However, these efforts only make it possible to contain the phenomenon, not to provide a lasting response.”

The French have also rejected calls for the return of migrants who attempt to cross the English Channel to France.

“Returning migrants is not an option for us, it is not a serious or responsible way to approach the issue,” they have insisted 

The initial online publication of Boris Johnson’s letter last week caused outrage amongst French officials, the move being branded “indigent in substance and totally out of place” by one government spokesman.

“We don’t communicate from one leader to another on these subjects like this via tweets or by making letters public,” said President Macron, claiming that he was ready to work with the British government “when they decide to be serious about it”.

Britain’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, was subsequently disinvited from a European conference on the migrant crisis over the diplomatic spat that ensued.

Relations have not seemed to have improved much since, with it being alleged that Macron calls the British prime minister a “clown” in private, and refers to his administration as “the Johnson circus”.

“BoJo talks to me at full speed, everything is going fine, we have discussions like big people, and then he gives us a hard time before or afterwards in an inelegant way. It’s always the same circus.” Macron is said to have sneered. “It is very sad to see a great country, with which we could do so much, led by a clown. Johnson has the attitude of a knucklehead.” 

More than 25,000 migrants have illegally made the crossing from France and the Low Countries to England in 2021, around triple last year’s number.

The United Kingdom has failed to manage the crisis, with at least 27 people dying last week while attempting to cross the Channel.

Meanwhile, some migrants who manage to successfully make the crossing have found themselves being bussed over 500 miles away to Scotland, sometimes straight after landing on British shores, for their asylum claims to be processed.

The French have largely blamed the British for the crisis, saying that Britain’s black market is a pull factor for illegal migrants — a criticism that British commentators such as Nigel Farage have partially agreed with.

British government insiders have criticised how sensitive the French have been in regard to dealing with the subject.

“The fact is more people are going to die because of offence taken at a tweet and that is a sad situation to be in,” one government source said.

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