Tensions rose further between London and Paris on Thursday, September 9, after the UK Home Office said it was considering pushing back migrants attempting to cross the Channel from French territorial waters, prompting the annoyance of Gerald Darmanin, the French Minister of the Interior.
His British counterpart, Priti Patel, would have validated this tactic of the « pushback » and, according to the Times, asked Michael Ellis, the Attorney General for England and Wales, to review the British interpretation of the Law of the Sea, so as to allow border control forces to intercept migrant boats at their arrival in UK national waters.
In France, Mr. Darmanin was quick to react. Thursday, at the end of the morning, the tenant of the Place Beauvau declared on Twitter : “France will not accept any practice contrary to the law of the sea, nor any financial blackmail (…) The friendship between our two countries deserves better than postures which undermine cooperation between our services. “ It is, moreover, a practice “Dangerous for the safety of persons”, said the Ministry of the Interior, Thursday afternoon, reaffirming its opposition to such a measure.
“We cannot cooperate serenely with a neighbor who calls for measures unilaterally”, adds Place Beauvau. From Monday, in a letter addressed to Mr.me Patel, Mr. Darmanin had warned that the use of push-backs at sea “Could have a negative impact on [leur] cooperation “.
Change of posture
“Any new approach to border forces will be deployed in a legal manner”, A Downing Street spokesperson said Thursday, confirming the information from the Times and ensuring: “We will ensure that this approach [repousser les migrants] is tested and put into practice in a safe manner by trained personnel. “” We depend to a large extent on the action of the French [pour prévenir les passages], but we will also use all possible tactics at our disposal to stop [les passeurs] », British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the day before from the House of Commons.
This change in posture follows a meeting between Gérald Darmanin and Mr.me Patel, Wednesday, on the sidelines of a G7 of interior ministers, during which the British minister reiterated the growing frustration of London.
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