France shuns British minister from Channel migrants meeting

Refugees sit by a fire in the new Jungle on November 25, 2021 in Dunkirk, France. At least 27 people including five women and a young girl died on November 24 trying to cross the Channel to the UK in an inflatable dinghy in an incident which the International Organisation for Migration described as the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014. T
Refugees sit by a fire in the new Jungle on November 25, 2021 in Dunkirk, France. At least 27 people including five women and a young girl died on November 24 trying to cross the Channel to the UK in an inflatable dinghy in an incident which the International Organisation for Migration described as the biggest single loss of life in the Channel since it began collecting data in 2014. T
Image: Kiran Ridley

France has told UK Home Secretary Priti Patel she is no longer invited to a meeting over the Channel migration crisis after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson criticised Paris' handling of the situation, the French government said.

France took offence at a letter sent by Johnson to President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday. A source close to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin described the letter as "unacceptable and contrary to the spirit of our discussions between partners".

The decision underlined the poor post-Brexit relations between the two countries and the difficulties they may face working together to curb the flow of migrants after 27 people drowned trying to reach British shores on Wednesday.

"Darmanin told his counterpart she was not longer welcome," government spokesman Gerald Darmanin told BFM TV.

London said it hoped Paris would reconsider.

"No nation can tackle this alone and so I hope that the French will reconsider," transport minister Grant Shapps told BBC News.

Seventeen men, seven women and three teenagers died on when their dinghy deflated in the Channel, one of many such risky journeys attempted in small, overloaded boats by people fleeing poverty and war in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.

It was the worst such tragedy on record in the narrow seaway separating Britain and France, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said France was at fault and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Britain of "bad immigration management".

The deaths deepened animosity between Britain and France, already at odds over post-Brexit trade rules and fishing rights.

French fishermen on Friday blocked a small British cargo vessel from docking in Saint-Malo and plan later to blockade the port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel, both major hubs for trade between Britain and Europe.

Reuters

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