David Miliband has criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson for trying to ‘inflame the wrath’ of French President Emmanuel Macron in a row over how to handle the migration crisis.
Seventeen men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three teenagers died when their dinghy scattered in the Channel, one of many such perilous journeys that attempted small, flimsy, overburdened boats put up by smugglers for £3,000 for a single trip. Ticket to Kent.
The deaths deepened animosity between Britain and France, which already disagree over post-Brexit trade rules and fishing rights.
In a dramatic intervention, the prime minister wrote directly to the French president to formally introduce hundreds of British staff to prevent desperate migrants from taking to the water.
David Miliband (pictured) has criticized Prime Minister Boris Johnson for trying to “anger” French President Emmanuel Macron in a row over how to handle the migration crisis.
The prime minister’s five-point plan that angered the French
1. Border Patrol officers to help guard French beaches and adjacent roads. The UK could fund private security if France refused due to sovereignty concerns
2. Allowing the UK to return migrants crossing the English Channel directly to France and ‘breaking the criminal gang business model’
3. Border Force cutters to help guard French coastal waters. The French Navy can enter UK waters on joint missions
4. The UK could fund the deployment of ground-based sensors and radar in northern France to help detect suspicious activities on remote beaches. The Prime Minister also offered to “deepen” the exchange of intelligence information on the operations of smuggling gangs
5. The Prime Minister also offered to share intelligence from British reconnaissance flights over the Canal to help French forces intercept smuggling operations more quickly.
Boris Johnson also uploaded a copy of the letter addressed to Macron to Twitter on Thursday.
In response, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told his counterpart Priti Patel this morning that she was no longer welcome at Sunday’s crisis meeting.
Speaking on the issue, Miliband, who is now chief executive of the International Rescue Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It’s a graphic presentation of what Brexit means. I think the French government was completely wrong in rejecting the UK’s invitation (for talks) because it is clear that the UK needs to be a part of it.
But the government was not very wise in writing a letter, apparently an hour after the prime minister had spoken with President Macron, which in any reading could be taken as intended to irritate President Macron.
You could tell he was wrong to get angry but it wasn’t reasonable to try to make him angry. And in the end we will have to make up for what Brexit created and make it good.
He said before Brexit, there was a scheme that would give the UK the right to return some asylum seekers back to the EU, adding: “This does not exist and this is one of the things that means we are still negotiating Brexit. some time in the future.
Macron threw an angry shriek after the prime minister sent him an open letter demanding action on migrant flows, calling Mr Johnson “not serious” during a news conference about a visit to Italy.
The Elysee Palace had already warned Johnson against ‘exploiting’ the disaster that saw dozens of migrants drowned off the French coast earlier this week for political gain, but the prime minister penned an overnight speech with a five-point plan for cooperation.
The Prime Minister (pictured yesterday) wrote directly to the French President to formally introduce hundreds of British staff to prevent desperate migrants from taking to the water.
Macron could not contain his anger when asked about the developments. “I am amazed when things are not taken seriously,” he said. “We do not communicate between leaders via tweets or posted messages, and we are not a whistleblower.”
A spokesman for Darmanin, who yesterday accused Britain of mismanaging immigration and luring migrants with benefits and burdensome work rules, said: ‘We consider Boris Johnson’s public rhetoric to be unacceptable and inconsistent with discussions between peers.
As a result, Priti Patel is no longer invited to attend the meeting on Sunday.
Ex-Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who is running for the French presidency in the looming election, also got into the fray, accusing Johnson of being “in a state of mind of confrontation on all topics”.
Mr Macron (pictured yesterday) threw an angry outcry after the prime minister sent him an open letter demanding action on migrant flows, calling Mr Johnson “not serious” during a news conference about a visit to Italy.
The summit will be held with other European interior ministers without the interior minister, whose aides had already traveled to Paris via Eurostar last night.
The decision angered British MPs. Conservative Deputy Chairman Jacob Young tweeted: ‘A ridiculous act of the French government that seemed to forget that two days ago 27 people had died crossing the Canal. Stop the boats – that simple.
His fellow Conservative Nicola Richards said: ‘It’s really childish behavior on the part of France, and it’s becoming more and more clear that they don’t want to stop these boats from leaving France. 27 people died within days, but they’d rather be petty than help find a solution.
Asked if Johson regretted the open letter to Macron, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “No.”
They emphasized that the tone of the letter was about “deepening cooperation”.
“This is about deepening our current cooperation and the work already underway between our two countries,” the spokesman said.
We want to work closely with international partners, obviously including France, on a common cause so that we can find common solutions.
We saw the tragedy earlier this week. As the Prime Minister said, we need to do more and he has identified areas in his message where he believes we can do more to work together.
Asked if the French were “putting lives at risk” with Pique’s seizure, the spokesman said: “We hope they will reconsider.”
Interior Ministry employees are still in France after traveling ahead of meetings, according to Number 10.
“I think our officials are there, are we talking?” the spokesman said.
Pressing what Johnson would do to mend ties with Macron, the spokesperson declined to say if there were plans to make a call. I think the Prime Minister spoke before about his positive relationship with the French President.
The spokesman also denied Johnson’s farce about leaving the European Union.