Home Secretary Priti Patel was banned from a meeting of European interior ministers in Calais after Paris was outraged at a letter posted on Twitter by Boris Johnson last week
France tonight said it would not be “held hostage” by Britain as relations with the UK worsened over Channel migrant crossings.
Writing after at least 27 migrants perished when their inflatable capsized attempting the journey, the Prime Minister outlined measures he believed France should take to curb perilous voyages.
The two countries were already locked in disputes over post-Brexit trading rules and fishing rights.
Speaking after Sunday’s summit with his Belgian, German and Dutch counterparts, France’s Gerald Darmanin said: “Britain left Europe, but not the world.
“We need to work seriously on these questions … without being held hostage by domestic British politics.”
He added: “If migrants are coming to Calais, Dunkirk or northern France, it’s because they are attracted by England, especially the labour market which means you can work in England without any identification.
“Britain must take its responsibility and limit its economic attractiveness.”
While she was banned from the Calais meeting, Ms Patel held talks with Dutch migration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol.
The Home Office said: “They agreed that the tragic incidents of last week demonstrate the need for European partners to work together.
“It was clear that shared problems needed shared solutions.
“The Home Secretary expressed that it was unfortunate that she wouldn’t be present at today’s meeting of interior ministers in Calais to discuss this issue.”
Ian Vogler / Daily Mirror)
Asked who was to blame for the UK and France not working together more effectively, Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy told Sky News: “France blames Britain, Britain blames France.
“The truth is that both governments are engaging in a blame game while children drown off our coastline.
“It’s just simply unconscionable and any responsible government on either side of the Channel would set aside those differences and work together to deal with what is a collective share problem that will only be solved together.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid demanded greater cooperation from the French in tackling the dangerous Channel crossing.
“We can’t just do it on our own, we do need the cooperation of the French…I hope the French will work with us,” Mr Javid told Sky News.
In the Vatican, Pope France dedicated nearly all of his Sunday message to migrants.
He said: “I feel pain when I hear news of the situation in which so many find themselves, those who died in the Channel, those at the border of Belarus, many of whom are children, those who drown in the Mediterranean.”