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France scraps UK talks over Johnson migrants letter

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France’s interior minister has cancelled talks with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on France to take back migrants who crossed the Channel.

In an escalation of the political crisis after the deaths of 27 people in the Channel, Gérald Darmanin said France was disappointed by the plan.

“Making it public made it even worse.”

Mr Johnson set out five steps in his letter to President Emmanuel Macron to avoid a repeat of Wednesday’s tragedy.

“We consider the British prime minister’s public letter unacceptable and counter to our discussions between partners,” Mr Darmanin said in a statement.

“As a result Priti Patel is no longer invited,” he added.

The sinking of the inflatable boat on Wednesday marked the biggest loss of life by drowning in the English Channel on record and included 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children.

Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission are all due to attend Sunday’s summit in Calais.

In his letter to Mr Macron, the UK prime minister outlined five steps he wanted to see taken:

  • Joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches
  • deploying more advanced technology, like sensors and radar
  • reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters and airborne surveillance
  • deepening the work of the countries’ joint intelligence cell

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