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Boris Johnson ‘enormous error’ as France cancels talks on Channel crossings


France has scrapped talks with the UK over the Channel migrant crisis after Boris Johnson called for those who make the dangerous crossing in small boats to be sent straight back.

France’s Interior Minister cancelled talks with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in the wake of Johnson writing to French President

Emmanuel Macron telling him what had to be done to avoid a repeat of Wednesday’s tragedy in which 27 people drowned.

Gérald Darmanin, the French Interior Minister, said France was disappointed by the letter and in an escalation of the political crisis cancelled talks that were due this weekend.

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

He added: “Making it public made it even worse. As a result Priti Patel is no longer invited.”

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

Johnson set out five steps in a letter published on Thursday evening including proposals for British border officials to begin patrols on the beaches of northern France as early as next week, a move Paris has long resisted.

Within hours of Johnson’s letter being posted on social media the French government gave an angry response.

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said the letter was “poor in substance, and totally out of place” and failed to respect all the work that France had done on the Channel coast.

Labour’s Nick Thomas-Symonds said the Prime Minister’s public letter to President Macron was “clearly an enormous error”.

The Shadow Home Secretary said: “This is a prime minister who is out of control. He’s lost control of this situation in the English Channel and now appears to have sent a public letter on Twitter asking for greater international talks and ended up being excluded from international talks.’

“It’s clearly an enormous error. And it’s an error that is one of a number. The Prime Minister has failed to get that effective deal in place with the French authorities that we need.”

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