Finance fishing boats

Patel snubbed by France as Macron says Johnson isn’t serious

(Bloomberg) – France has called off talks with Boris Johnson’s government on how to prevent people from trying to reach the UK in small boats and Emmanuel Macron has slammed the British Prime Minister for not to be “serious”, in a dramatic deterioration of a relationship severely strained by Brexit.

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French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Sunday canceled scheduled talks with his British counterpart Priti Patel. Instead, he will focus on talks with EU ministers, Macron told reporters during a visit to Rome. The French president also criticized Johnson for posting on Twitter a letter he wrote demanding that France take back the migrants.

“I am surprised by the methods when they are not serious; one leader does not communicate with another through tweets or a letter made public, ”Macron said. France will see to working with the British “if they decide to be serious”, he added.

The UK and France have been at loggerheads on issues ranging from defense to trade since Britain’s divorce from the EU. There are also personal tensions between Johnson and Macron, evident in the fallout from Australia’s September decision to drop a French submarine contract in favor of a deal with the US and UK. .

In another dispute which also stems from heightened animosity between the two countries, French fishermen have blocked access to ports in northern France in an attempt to pressure the UK over licenses to ship. post-Brexit fishery. They also blocked the ramp leading to the Eurotunnel freight terminal between Great Britain and France near Calais from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Police said there was no tension, no violence. On the UK side, traffic flowed freely through the terminal with no reported delays.

The shares of the tunnel operator Getlink collapsed in Paris.

“It’s a wake-up call,” Gérard Romiti, head of the first fishing union in France, said by telephone. “I wish we didn’t have to, but we do. We must support our fishermen.

Philippe Fait, the mayor of Etaples-sur-mer, a fishing village of 12,000 inhabitants, was among the demonstrators at the freight terminal. He said there has been an impact on his community as some have not received fishing licenses.

“We want the Brexit deal to be honored” by the end of the year, Done said, calling on Brussels to show courage.

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The wider rift between the UK and France has hampered efforts to agree a common approach to tackle the small craft crisis in the Channel. After at least 27 dead when their boat capsized on Wednesday, Johnson criticized France for not doing enough to prevent people from making the crossings.

In the letter the Prime Minister wrote to Macron on Thursday, he set out five steps he said could be taken together to avert another tragedy.

They understand:

  • Joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches

  • Deployment of more advanced technologies such as sensors and radars

  • Reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters and airborne surveillance

  • Better information sharing to increase arrests and prosecutions

  • “Immediate work” on a bilateral return agreement with France, alongside talks to establish a return agreement between the UK and the EU

“An agreement with France to take back migrants crossing the Channel by this dangerous route would have an immediate and significant impact,” he wrote in the letter.

France has already repeatedly rejected the idea of ​​joint patrols for reasons of sovereignty. The idea of ​​a return agreement is also politically sensitive – in the UK and across Europe.

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In a message seen by Agence France-Presse, Darmanin told Patel that Johnson’s letter was a “disappointment.” He added: “Making it public is even worse. So I have to cancel our meeting in Calais on Sunday.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said he hopes France will “reconsider” its decision to withdraw Patel from the talks. “I just think that no nation can tackle this alone,” he told BBC TV, adding that it is “in our interests and theirs” to solve the problem.

(Updates with details of the protests from the fifth paragraph.)

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