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France cancels talks with UK after letter by British premier on migrant crisis

French interior minister calls off weekend meeting with UK home secretary over letter released on Twitter

Cindi Cook   | 26.11.2021
France cancels talks with UK after letter by British premier on migrant crisis

PARIS

France's interior minister on Friday cancelled a meeting with the UK's home secretary planned for the weekend over a letter made public by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the migrant crisis unfolding in the Channel.

Cancelling his meeting with UK's Home Secretary Priti Patel, scheduled after 27 migrants drowned while trying to cross the Channel to Britain, Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin said Johnson's letter was a "disappointment," according to broadcaster France24.

The letter, addressed to France's President Emmanuel Macron and released on Twitter, suggested that France take back migrants who cross the English Channel. Announcing that Patel was no longer invited to France, Darmanin said the fact that the letter had been released publicly on social media made the situation even worse.

Johnson said in the letter written on Thursday that taking back migrants "would significantly reduce -- if not stop -- the crossings, saving thousands of lives by fundamentally breaking the business model of the criminal gangs."

On Wednesday, 27 migrants -- including children and a pregnant woman -- drowned in the English Channel after the boat they were in deflated in the biggest single loss of life so far this year. Only two men survived the crossing.

Macron also objected sharply to Johnson's letter, saying he was "surprised" at the UK's method and accusing London of not taking the crisis seriously. "We do not communicate by tweets or by letters when they're public," he added.​​​​​​​

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