Boris Johnson posted an open letter to Macron on Twitter. A British prime minister was invited to Paris. Then French fishermen started a blockade. What’s really going on in The English Channel?
Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin was called Baran by those closest to her. The 24-year-old Kurd sent Snapchat messages to her fiancé when she got on the boat. She was on her way from Calais in France. It should come as a surprise that she took the chance. But on the way over to him, the air went out of the inflatable dinghy. It began to take in water.
Baran tried to reassure his girlfriend via mobile phone. They were going to be rescued.
But it is her fiancé who retells the process to her BBC. The help came too late. Baran was one of 27 people who died on the crossing of the English Channel on Wednesday. 17 men, 7 women and three children. It is the biggest drowning tragedy in many years on the canal.
As a result, an already cool relationship between France and the United Kingdom is now on the verge of freezing.
Polite letter with harsh undertones
Following the accident, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a letter to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. In seemingly polite words, Johnson sought to find a solution to the refugee crisis. But “apparently” is probably the key word here.
For the French became angry over the letter. To all intents and purposes, it was posted in its entirety Twitter. Johnson wrote that he was open to “creative solutions” to prevent new tragedies in the channel. He listed various suggestions. Among them was joint maritime patrols in each other’s waters. As well as the return of migrants to France.
The latter in particular has provoked the French.
The first thing they did was to av-invite British Home Secretary Priti Patel to a meeting on Sunday.
France has invited ministers from several countries to discuss the refugee crisis. On Sunday, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany will meet, as well as the EU, but without the British Patel.
– We consider the British Prime Minister’s public letter to be unacceptable, and contrary to the conversations we have had on the subject, says an anonymous source according to Agence France-Presse.
Macron: – That’s nonsense
President Emmanuel Macron read the letter from Boris Johnson first on Twitter. He calls it nonsense.
“We do not communicate about such matters on social media,” he said The Guardian.
The French authorities’ spokesman, Gabriel Attal, was clearer in his statement to BFM TV:
– We are tired of the British speaking with two tongues and trying to outsource the problem.
The conflict was jacked up another notch when French fishermen started a blockade on Friday. Fishermen blocked access to the port of Saint-Malo and the freight terminal in the Channel Tunnel, reports the news agency AP.
The action created queues and delays.
French fishermen are cursed because they used to fish deep in British waters. That was before Brexit. Now they need a separate license to fish in certain areas. A few dozen fishermen are still waiting for this one.
– The fishermen react to the English’s scornful and humiliating attitude, says Gerart Romiti follow AP. He is the president of the French Fisheries Committee.
The fishermen have announced that they will step up their actions if the problems continue.
Is it really about domestic politics?
BBC writes in his analysis that the conflict is really about domestic politics. On both sides of the canal.
Boris Johnson promised to “take back control” of Britain’s borders after Brexit. But the constant flow of overcrowded dinghies across the English Channel does not signal watertight boundaries. The problem is that the British government has no drawbridge to pull up.
Controlling borders requires international agreements and cooperation. Then the EU is quick to point out that the British does not have a return agreement. Not with any EU country. This is due to the “thin” Brexit agreement the British eventually got through.
Brexit has thus made the refugee situation more complicated for the British to deal with, no less. Now Boris Johnson is trying to show action.
On the French side, Emmanuel Macron is heading into an election where it is important for him to flag national security and sovereignty. Macron is pushed from the right – and outer right. Among other things, a new challenger has emerged in the political arena. Eric Zemmour is called France’s Donald Trump, and is supposed to be more extreme than Marine Le Pen.
Macron now rejects any request from the British for joint patrols on French beaches and in French waters. His government has stated that the British, if any, should have a full understanding of national sovereignty after Brexit.
A record number of migrants have crossed the English Channel this year. The British want an end to this.
– A strong collaboration, says British Prime Minister
What happens next from here? The meeting on the refugee crisis on Sunday goes without the British Minister of State.
Meanwhile, Johnson’s government is trying to de-dramatize the conflict with its neighbors. Damian Hinds is a minister responsible for border control. He characterizes the open letter from Boris Johnson as “exceptionally supportive and cooperative”, writes The Guardian. Hinds believes that co-operation between France and the United Kingdom is still strong. At the same time, he assures that no one is proposing to violate French sovereignty, even though they have proposed “helping” to patrol the French side of the canal.
– But triggered by this terrible tragedy, we must go further. We have to come up with new, creative solutions, he adds.