France Blames UK for Channel Drownings for Being 'Too Attractive' to Migrants
20:56 GMT 28.11.2021 (Updated: 21:39 GMT 18.10.2022)
France has refused to accept responsibility for the drowning of at least 27 immigrants who set off from its territory just a few miles off the port of Calais — and disinvited the British home secretary after Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested cooperation on catching people-traffickers.
France has tried to blame the UK for the drowning of 27 migrants off Calais this week — demanding that it make itself "less attractive" to asylum-seekers.
Speaking at a crisis summit, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin claimed the UK must be more "responsible" and make itself "less attractive for migrants".
At least 27 immigrants — including three children and five women, one pregnant — drowned on Wednesday when the flimsy people-traffickers' dinghy carrying them deflated and sank just miles off the French channel port of Calais.
Paris barred British Home Secretary Priti Patel from attending the summit at the last minute after Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron proposing cooperation on halting the deadly trade in human misery.
Rather that take responsibility for French failures to stop the deadly traffic, Darmanin claimed asylum-seekers were "attracted by England, especially the labour market which means you can work in England without any identification."
Unlike most European Union nations, the UK does not have a national ID card. Proposals floated by Europhile prime minister Tony Blair's Labour government in 2006 were abandoned in the face of a public backlash.
"Britain must take its responsibility and limit its economic attractiveness," he claimed. "Britain left Europe, but not the world."
Despite Patel's exclusion, Darmanin denied the meeting was "anti-English". But he said the European Union should "tell them a few things".
"Firstly, help us fight people-smuggling better," he pleaded "We need intelligence. Responses to requests from the French police are not always given."
The French navy has been criticised for repeatedly failing to intercept people-trafficking boats launching from its territory, preferring to shadow them until they reach British waters from where they are rescued by the Royal Navy or RNLI lifeboats and taken to Dover and other havens.
"Everyone knows there are more than 1.2 million illegal immigrants in Great Britain," the minister claimed RTL radio, "and that British employers use this labour force to make things that the British manufacture and consume."
He boasted that France deports 20,000 immigrants a year, compared to the UK's 6,000 as another example of irresponsible British attractiveness.
The summit was poorly-attended however. Dutch Migration Minister Ankie Broekers-Knol and Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden and Asylum and Migration Minister Sammy Mahdi were the only other national officials present
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and Europol executive director Catherine De Bolle also attended, while Germany sent only Christian Democrat MP Stephan Mayer. Natacha Bouchart, the Mayoress of Calais was present as well.
28 November 2021, 14:00 GMT
European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas was clear on Saturday that the unchecked stream of illegal immigration from France and the Low Countries was a punishment for the UK leaving the EU in 2020
"I recall well the main slogan of the referendum campaign is 'we take back control'," Schinas told reporters in Greece. "Since the UK took back control it's up to them now to find the necessary measures to operationalise the control they took back."
© REUTERS / AZAD LASHKARI / Family mourns the death of Maryam Nuri, who died trying to cross the channel between France and Britain, in ErbilFamily mourns the death of Maryam Nuri, who died trying to cross the channel between France and Britain, in Erbil
Family mourns the death of Maryam Nuri, who died trying to cross the channel between France and Britain, in Erbil
© REUTERS / AZAD LASHKARI / Family mourns the death of Maryam Nuri, who died trying to cross the channel between France and Britain, in Erbil
The Promised Land?
Earlier on Sunday, former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith stressed that France's attacks on "Les Anglais" were nothing new, and were common as a form of electioneering even when the UK was still an EU member.
France has a 'peculiar resentment' towards the UK and— LBC (@LBC) November 28, 2021
Macron has 'thrown his toys out of the pram' in the row over migrants, Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith tells LBC.@CamillaTominey | @MPIainDS pic.twitter.com/9LzWsDNbPm
British human rights lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie challenged the government's argument that France was a safe country for immigrants to claim asylum in under the EU's Dublin agreement.
She cited the 2011 French 'burqa ban' legislation and more recent laws against charities handing out food parcels to those camped near the channel ports.
Human rights lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie says the government is "out of order to even consider" taking the manner in which asylum seekers arrive in the country part of their claim for asylum#Phillips: https://t.co/tQMEm8lFog pic.twitter.com/qEghkmqHcF— Trevor Phillips on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) November 28, 2021
And in an article in the Sunday Telegraph, migrants told why they wanted to settle in Britain and how French authorities were driving them to leave the country for the UK.
They said French police drive them out of their squatter camps and rough-sleeping sites nightly — while in the UK asylum-seekers are accommodated in municipal housing or hotels, and have free access to public healthcare.
One Iraqi immigrant said Britain's ethnic diversity and tolerance — compared to France — were what drew him to make the perilous English Channel crossing.
“There [are] in England many people from other places. But in France, it is a very different country."