Patel hits back at Macron over Channel crossings

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He also accused London of “hypocrisy” in its immigration approach, due to 1980s-style economic policies that accept low-pay workers following illegal entry…reports Asian Lite News

Interior minister Priti Patel hit back on Wednesday at President Emmanuel Macron after he said London must take responsibility for the deaths of migrants attempting to cross the Channel from northern France.

“Macron’s comments are wrong — they’re absolutely wrong,” Priti Patel told a panel of lawmakers in parliament.

The Conservative minister said more than 51,000 migrants tried to cross the Channel last year — a record — with over 28,000 reaching British waters or shores.

French President Emmanuel Macron

However, some journeys ended in tragedy — in November, 27 migrants drowned off France during an attempted crossing in a boat likened by French officials to a children’s inflatable pool.

Macron, who is expected to seek re-election in April, told a regional French newspaper Tuesday that Britain’s failure to establish a legal route to claim asylum in the country was in part responsible for the crisis.

“The moral responsibility for those who perish at sea does not lie with France, but with this British refusal to respond,” he told La Voix Du Nord.

He also accused London of “hypocrisy” in its immigration approach, due to 1980s-style economic policies that accept low-pay workers following illegal entry.

“We are hostages to an absurd and inhuman situation,” Macron added.

His comments follow several of his ministers making similar statements in recent months, as the increasing number of migrants crossing the Channel sours relations with Britain.

It has prompted an unseemly blame game, even as both sides try to disrupt the people trafficking networks, while also becoming a political headache for embattled British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Nationality and Borders Bill, currently working its way through the London parliament, promises tougher action against people smugglers and, controversially, migrants themselves.

If passed, the bill, opposed by rights groups, will allow the return of asylum seekers who have passed through so-called “safe third countries.”

Meanwhile, ministers have paid short shrift to proposals to allow people to claim British asylum in northern France.

Asked about such plans, Patel said Wednesday they were “not viable.”

“It would not stop people making (the) dangerous crossing,” she added.

“That proposal will effectively make France a big magnet for more migrants to come.

“I don’t know how the French public feel about that… they have enough problems with camps and criminality and all sorts of issues taking place.”

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