Emmanuel Macron says Boris Johnson not taking migrant crisis ‘seriously’ as row with France escalates

French president Emmanuel Macron has accused Boris Johnson of failing to act “seriously” in the migrant crisis, as he justified Paris’s decision to withdraw Priti Patel’s invitation to an emergency summit on Sunday.

France responded with fury to a letter to Mr Macron from the prime minister last night, in which Mr Johnson set out a five-point package to step up action on small boat crossings of the English Channel, following Wednesday’s tragedy in which 27 people died.

Mr Macron today voiced his anger that the PM had published the letter on Twitter, including a demand – certain to provoke the Elysee Palace – for France to take back migrants who the UK deems “illegal” in what Mr Johnson described as a “bilateral returns agreement”.

Speaking at a press conference with Italian prime minister Mario Draghi in Rome on Friday, Mr Macron said: “I’m surprised when things are not done seriously.

“We don’t communicate between leaders via tweets or published letters, we are not whistle-blowers.”

The French interior ministry said Ms Patel was “no longer invited” to the meeting with her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin and ministers from other European countries on Sunday.

“We consider the British prime minister’s public letter unacceptable and contrary to our discussions between counterparts,” said the ministry in a statement early on Friday.

“Therefore, Priti Patel is no longer invited on Sunday to the inter-ministerial meeting whose format will be: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and European Commission.”

There was no immediate response from the Home Office, but transport secretary Grant Shapps said he hoped the French would reconsider their decision. “I don’t think there is anything inflammatory to ask for close co-operation with our nearest neighbours,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

The row underlines poor relations between the two countries and ongoing disagreements on how to work together to stop unsafe boat crossings.

Following the deaths on Wednesday, Mr Johnson irritated Paris by saying the tragedy had showed that efforts to stop people leaving on boats “haven’t been enough” and there had been “difficulties” in getting the French to take action.

The prime minister set out his proposals in a letter on Thursday, telling the French president that “we must go further and faster, together” to tackle the migrant crisis.

Mr Johnson said the UK wanted joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches; joint or reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters, and airborne surveillance by manned flights and drones.

The UK is also offering technology including radar, automatic numberplate recognition cameras and motion sensors to target the minor roads and dirt tracks used by people-smuggling gangs to deliver their human cargo to the beaches of northern France.

Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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