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A clash between the French President and the British Prime Minister due to the sinking of the migrant boat

French President Emmanuel Macron has responded angrily to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for France, in a letter, to take back migrants arriving in the UK via the Channel.

Macron accused the British prime minister of “not being serious” in making the request via Twitter, after 27 people were killed on Wednesday when a rubber boat sank while crossing the Channel.

Diplomatic turmoil escalated after France withdrew an invitation to attend a summit in Calais that had been addressed to British Home Secretary Priti Patel.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin canceled expected talks with his British counterpart at the Calais meeting.

Darmanan said Johnson’s letter frustrated France, and that “publicizing the message made matters worse”.

“We view the British Prime Minister’s public message as unacceptable and inconsistent with the nature of the discussion between partners,” Darmanan said in a statement.

“Therefore, Priti Patel is no longer invited,” the French Interior Minister continued.

The British government urged France to reconsider the decision to withdraw the invitation, and Johnson said: “This is a problem that we have to solve together.”

Representatives from France, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission are scheduled to attend for talks in Calais on Sunday.

The French president hopes, through this summit, to reach an agreement to deal with the recent rise in the number of migrants crossing the Channel.

This coincides with the organization of French fishermen protest activities, including the erection of barriers to disrupt traffic across the English Channel, as an expression of their rejection of the fishing laws after Brexit.

The drowning incident that occurred on Wednesday is the largest of its kind in the recorded history of the English Channel. Among the drowned were 17 men and seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children.

In anticipation of Sunday’s meeting, the British Prime Minister published on Twitter a message he sent on Thursday, in turn, to the French President, explaining five steps to avoid a recurrence of the tragic drowning incident.

French boats block entrance to St Malo harbor in protest against post-Brexit fishing laws

However, the French government reacted angrily to Johnson’s letter, withdrawing the British Home Secretary’s invitation to attend the Calais meeting.

At a press conference, today, Friday, Macron criticized the British Prime Minister regarding the publication of a message on Twitter, saying: “Two days ago I spoke with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a serious way.”

And the French president added: “For my part, I still maintain my seriousness, as I always do with all countries and leaders. I am amazed at the non-serious ways.”

“As leaders, we do not communicate on such issues by tweeting on Twitter or through messages that we publish to the public. We are not reporting business violations,” Macron said.

A French government spokesman accused Johnson of saying something different in his conversation with Macron, and saying something different in the message.

“We’re tired of prevarication,” the spokesperson said.

However, a British government spokesman said: “We’ve talked about a lot of these ideas before. People want, and they have a right to, to see what we are going to do to prevent this tragedy from happening again. We want to work closely with France.”

The British spokesman added: “As for the style of the message, it is to enhance cooperation.”
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British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps: “We hope France will reconsider.”

Officials from the British Home Office are still talking with their counterparts in Paris about a way to deal with the crisis in the English Channel.

According to reports from Calais, the two survivors of Wednesday’s accident – an Iraqi and a Somali – have been released from the hospital and are scheduled to be interrogated to determine the number of those on the boat before the accident.

The UK’s shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of “gross miscalculation” about sending the letter to France.

Thomas-Symonds told the BBC: “It’s a shameful attitude for a prime minister and home secretary who have completely lost control of the situation at the Channel.”

The drowning incident that occurred on Wednesday is the largest of its kind in the recorded history of the English Channel. Among the drowned were 17 men and seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children.

Barely a few hours after Johnson’s message was published on social media, the French government’s anger became clear.

Gabriel Attal, a French government spokesman, said Johnson’s letter was “poor in substance and completely misplaced” and that it failed to appreciate all the work France had done on the Channel.

picture released, Getty Images

The British Prime Minister said that “an agreement with France to take back the migrants who crossed the Channel from this dangerous route, will have a tangible and direct effect.”

British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps defended the letter, saying that “friends and neighbours” should work together.

“No nation can go it alone,” Shapps told the BBC. “I hope the French will think again. It’s in our interest and theirs, and certainly in the interest of those who are smuggled into the UK and are exposed to these tragic accidents on the way.”

A fishing boat sounded the siren on Wednesday afternoon when it spotted several people in the sea off the coast of France.

27 people drowned while trying to cross the English Channel from France on a rubber boat carrying 34 people.

The International Organization for Migration said it was the largest loss of life in the Channel since 2014.

According to the French media, the victims of the incident were Iraqi or Iranian Kurds.

Record numbers of refugees have crossed the English Channel by boat in recent months. According to the BBC’s Dominic Kashiani, by July 2021 there will be more people who have made the same journey for the whole of 2020.