UK uninvited from emergency migrant crisis talks following ‘unacceptable’ open letter from Boris Johnson

The crisis talks have been called following the deaths of at least 27 people, including a pregnant woman and child, who were trying to cross the Channel to claim asylum in the UK

The UK is no longer invited to take part in a summit with other European countries to address the small boat crossings in the Channel, following a letter sent by Boris Johnson to the French president which was described as ‘unacceptable’.

Priti Patel will no longer attend the meeting on Sunday with French minister of the interior Gerald Darmanin and other counterparts from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

At a glance: 5 key points

  • Priti Patel is no longer invited to attend a meeting with European counterparts to discuss the crisis in the Channel after an open letter to President Macron published by Boris Johnson was described as “unacceptable” by the French
  • The summit was called following the deaths of at least 27 people in the Channel this week, during a period when attempted crossings from Northern France have peaked 
  • Among Johnson’s suggestions were calls increased joint patrols, the use of “advanced technology” and for France to take back those people that make the crossing 
  • Johnson’s letter was criticised as placing too much onus on the French to tackle the issue, and as being unrealistic due to its focus on policing, given the scale of the area of coastline which would need to be patrolled
  • Johnson has also been criticised for publishing the letter on social media, which some have seen as being more about the public’s perception of the issue rather than resolving it 

What’s been said?

French media reported that the Interior Ministry statement said: “We consider the British

Writing on Twitter, Boris Johnson said: “If those who reach this country were swiftly returned, the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be significantly reduced.

“This would be the single biggest step we could take together to reduce the draw to Northern France and break the business model of criminal gangs.

“I am confident that by taking these steps and building on our existing cooperation we can address illegal migration and prevent more families from experiencing the devastating loss we saw yesterday.”

Prime Minister’s public letter unacceptable and contrary to our discussions between counterparts.

“Therefore, Priti Patel is no longer invited on Sunday to the inter-ministerial meeting whose format will be: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and European Commission.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Mr Johnson had made the proposals in “good faith” and urged the French to reconsider their decision.

“I don’t think there is anything inflammatory to ask for close co-operation with our nearest neighbours,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“The proposal was made in good faith. I can assure our French friends of that and I hope that they will reconsider meeting up to discuss it.”