French sink migrant deal in a fit of pique: Joint beach patrols on northern coast are cancelled at the 11th hour amid anger over Emmanuel Macron ‘friend or foe’ row
- Boris Johnson’s government was set to make deal with France on migrant boats
- Liz Truss’s remarks over Emmanuel Macron being ‘friend or foe’ led it to pull out
- Joint press release announcing plan ‘had been drawn up’ before it was binned
- Deal was to involve the UK paying up to £50million to the French for joint patrols
Liz Truss’s remarks over whether Emmanuel Macron should be considered a ‘friend or foe’ led to France pulling out of a major deal to tackle the small boats crisis.
Boris Johnson’s government had been poised to announce an agreement with France allowing British immigration officers to be deployed on the other side of the Channel.
But Miss Truss unintentionally scuppered the ‘ground-breaking’ deal during her Tory leadership campaign when she said the ‘jury is out’ on whether the French president was a ‘friend or foe’.
Boris Johnson’s government had been poised to announce an agreement with France allowing British immigration officers to be deployed on the other side of the Channel
Liz Truss’s remarks over whether Emmanuel Macron should be considered a ‘friend or foe’ led to France pulling out of a major deal to tackle the small boats crisis
Her comments triggered a ‘tirade’ from the French, sources said, and Mr Macron’s government petulantly pulled out of the Channel negotiations in a fit of pique a few days later, even though a deal was on the cusp of being signed and sealed.
A joint press release announcing the plan had even been drawn up when the whole scheme had to be binned, it is understood.
The development, which comes after small boat migrants since the start of the year topped 32,000, is damaging for the PM because British experts believe securing a deal for UK ‘boots on the ground’ in France will be vital in tackling the Channel crisis.
‘The agreement was ground-breaking and would have seen UK authorities working in France to stop the small boats,’ a senior source said.
‘For four years, the Home Office had been pushing for a deal which would allow British officials to work alongside French officials on the other side of the Channel. Boris Johnson was ready to sign it off. But it all collapsed after the “friend or foe” remark. There was a tsunami of rage, a tirade, from the Elysees Palace and French officials.
The aborted deal was going to involve the UK Government paying up to £50million to the French for boosted joint patrols, it is understood
‘They said, “Who does this Truss woman think she is?” –and even demanded that she gave an apology.’ The source added: ‘The French will hold the UK Government to ransom over this.’
The aborted deal was going to involve the UK Government paying up to £50million to the French for boosted joint patrols, it is understood.
Home Office immigration intelligence officials would have been among those allowed to work on French territory, along with other UK Border Force officers.
Miss Truss made the remarks at the end of August during leadership election hustings in Norwich hosted by TalkTV.
Asked whether Mr Macron was ‘friend or foe’, she replied: ‘The jury is out. If I become prime minister I would judge him on deeds, not words.’
Mr Macron later appeared to chastise Miss Truss by commenting: ‘Britain is a friend of France, I don’t doubt that for a second. If France and Britain cannot say whether they are friends or enemies… we are headed for serious problems.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘Our work with the French to prevent the unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings is ongoing.’
The two leaders met at the United Nations summit in New York last week, where Mr Macron indicated he was ready to ‘move on’ from the debacle. ‘There is a will to re-engage, to move on, and to show that we are allies and friends in a complex world,’ he said.
A source close to French interior minister Gerald Darmanin last night repeatedly refused to deny the account told to the Daily Mail of what happened to the joint patrol plan. ‘I’m sorry, but we have no comment to make,’ the source said.
A Government spokesman said: ‘Our work with the French to prevent the unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings is ongoing.
‘This cooperation has prevented over 23,000 illegal crossings since the start of the year, almost 75 per cent more than at this stage last year and our UK-France Joint Intelligence Cell has made more than 500 arrests and dismantled 21 organised crime groups since it was established in July 2020.
‘This partnership is just one part of the Government’s wider work on tackling illegal migration.’
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