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France-UK acrimony hinders progress on Channel crossings


“Migration fuels this feeling that Boris Johnson does not understand his blue collar political base,” said Matthew Goodwin, professor of politics at the University of Kent. And unlike previous immigration fears, he said, the Channel crossings are “a much more emotional and symbolic form of migration that amplifies the feeling among some voters that there is little the government can do. to control this problem “.

Mr Goodwin said it was no coincidence that the migrants’ stalemate coincided with the return to prominence in Britain of Nigel Farage, a pro-Brexit right-wing leader who has long campaigned on anti-immigration appeals. Mr. Farage, now host for the news channel GB News, regularly calls out against the influx of boats.

While the issue of migrants has long been a source of friction between Britain and France, it has also produced examples of creative collaboration.

In 2003, the two countries signed the Treaty of Touquet, which stationed border agents in each other’s jurisdictions so they can check travelers’ passports before they cross the Channel. This reduces the number of asylum seekers in Britain because some are turned away before reaching British soil, where under international law they have the right to seek asylum.

Today, diplomats fear that this treaty is a victim of escalating tensions. France’s foreign ministry insisted it would stick to the deal. But Mr Zemmour, for his part, called on France to tear it up, saying it was an insult to the French. It would hurt Britain more than France, experts said, as the flow of migrants is one-way.

Beyond that, they said, Britain and France must work together to develop ways to monitor the coastline. In his letter, Mr Johnson offered to send British police officers to help patrol French beaches – a suggestion that is unlikely to go anywhere with the French, and a sign that the two countries are still operating on different pages.


Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson