French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin – AFP

France canceled this Friday (26) the participation of the United Kingdom in a meeting scheduled for Sunday with the aim of addressing the migration crisis in the English Channel, where 27 migrants died this week, which further complicates the already deteriorated relationship between the two countries since Brexit.

Paris justified the decision as “poor in content and totally inappropriate in form” the letter of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to French President Emmanuel Macron, with the request to readmit migrants arriving at its shores.

In a letter released to the press, Johnson urges Macron “a bilateral readmission agreement (…) of all illegal migrants who cross (the English Channel)”, indicating that the European Union (EU) has similar pacts with Russia and Belarus.

“This measure would have an immediate effect and would considerably reduce, and even stop, crossings, saving lives, by breaking the economic model of the mafias”, added the conservative head of government.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin criticized the content of the letter and its disclosure, which led him to cancel the participation of his British counterpart, Priti Patel, in a meeting on Sunday in Calais (north) with other countries.

The objective of the meeting, which has been confirmed with authorities from France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and the European Commission, is “to strengthen police, judicial and humanitarian cooperation, as well as fight more efficiently against the mafias”.

The British government has asked Paris to resume the invitation to Patel. “No nation can face this alone. I hope the French will reconsider the decision,” Transport Minister Grant Shapps told the BBC.

With increased controls at ports and access to the tunnel under the English Channel, migrants have opted to use boats to try to reach the coasts of the UK, a phenomenon that has increased since 2018.

From the beginning of the year until November 20th, 31,500 attempted the crossing. The trend has not slowed despite the drop in temperatures and on Wednesday 27 migrants died in their attempt to reach the UK, the biggest tragedy since 2018.

burs-tjc / d

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