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The state of France's relationship with Britain - by The Economist - 27.11.21

With both nations joined in equal peril by uncontrolled numbers now heading into North West Europe from the Middle East and beyond, it is more important than ever that Britain and France resolve their differences and work together to address the urgent security problems now threatening to overwhelm them both.

According to the Economist blame for the current diplomatic impasse can be levelled at both sides and mutual recrimination is no help to either:

"Neither side is blameless in this latest spat. The day after the drownings, and without warning the French, Mr Johnson tweeted a letter he had sent to Mr Macron. In it he proposed ideas about better cross-border cooperation, such as the dispatch of British soldiers and policemen to patrol French beaches, which had already been rejected by France as an infringement of sovereignty. The letter also proposed a “returns agreement” to take back migrants who arrive in Britain, which the French have repeatedly made clear is a matter for EU, not bilateral, discussion.

Mr Macron, who was in Rome signing a Franco-Italian friendship treaty, retorted angrily that the letter was “not serious” and that he did not conduct diplomacy by Twitter. Yet days earlier the French diplomatic service had tweeted a clip of Jean-Yves Le Drian, the foreign minister, calling Mr Johnson a “populist who uses all elements at his disposal to blame others for problems he faces internally”.

Serious was hardly the word that best characterised the decision by Gérald Darmanin, the French interior minister, to cancel an invitation to Priti Patel, the British home secretary, to a meeting on the migrant crisis. This is due to take place on November 28th in the port of Calais, with his Dutch, Belgian and German counterparts, as well as the European Commission."

On the other hand, diplomatic injury as a result of the clandestine AUKUS treaty between the UK, the US and Australia has bruised French sensibilities, and on the migration question they resent the accusation that they're not doing their bit to patrol the coastline or look after the refugees on their side of the border:

"In recent years, with the help of British finance, they have built up high fencing and tighter checks on freight leaving France through the Channel tunnel, in order to keep migrants from crossing to Britain via that route. This has encouraged people to try their chances in small boats from the beaches instead. So far this year, the French coastguards say that they have rescued 7,800 migrants from the Channel. French authorities have also arrested 1,552 people-smugglers, and dismantled 44 trafficking networks."

Whatever their differences co-operation between Britain and France in managing the crisis is the only available option and one they need to agree on urgently.

The full article can be read here with a link to the original beneath it:

The state of France's relationship with Britain - The Economist 27.11.21
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