Emmanuel Macron left out as Priti Patel goes Dutch on migrant crisis

Emmanuel Macron is left out in the cold as Priti Patel goes Dutch on migrant crisis by opening direct talks with European ministers

  • Home Secretary Priti Patel has opened direct talks with European ministers after the deaths of at least 27 people
  • French government barred Ms Patel from attending a Calais summit after he took umbrage at an alleged breach of protocol
  • Miss Patel spoke with her Dutch counterpart and secured crucial agreements 
  • Emmanuel Macron faced embarrassment last night as it emerged that Priti Patel was seeking a new deal with European partners on returning Channel migrants.

    Amid new attacks from France, the Home Secretary opened direct talks with European ministers yesterday after the deaths of at least 27 people last week.

    The French government barred Miss Patel from attending a Calais summit after president Macron took umbrage at an alleged breach of protocol.

    Despite his tantrum, the Home Office said Miss Patel spoke with her Dutch counterpart yesterday and secured crucial agreements on reforms.

    Emmanuel Macron faced embarrassment last night as it emerged that Priti Patel was seeking a new deal with European partners on returning Channel migrants

    Emmanuel Macron faced embarrassment last night as it emerged that Priti Patel was seeking a new deal with European partners on returning Channel migrants

    The French government barred Miss Patel from attending a Calais summit after president Macron took umbrage at an alleged breach of protocol

    The French government barred Miss Patel from attending a Calais summit after president Macron took umbrage at an alleged breach of protocol

    The bitter briefing war 

    Piti Patel’s decisive action to tackle the Channel crisis follows criticism from within government.

    Sources hit out at the Home Secretary yesterday over how long it was taking to resolve the issue of migrants crossing from northern France.

    They also accused Miss Patel of ‘going missing’ when things went wrong at her department.

    ‘She has had two years to sort this out but the situation is worse than ever,’ a source told The Mail on Sunday. Another said: ‘She has talked a good game – but she hasn’t yet delivered.’

    But a Home Office insider argued that Emmanuel Macron’s tantrum last week, after the PM published a five-point action plan, showed France was blocking her efforts. ‘People say she should get a grip of the situation and now they can all see for themselves what she’s up against,’ they claimed.

    A Downing Street source said: ‘The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Home Secretary.

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    A spokesman said both ministers acknowledged that returns agreements – allowing migrants to be sent from the UK back to other EU nations – were ‘essential for breaking the criminal business model’ operated by organised crime gangs who charge more than £3,000 per illegal crossing.France has repeatedly refused to consider a deal on returning migrants from the UK. 

    A Whitehall source said: ‘We will this week have more talks with counterparts on how we can work together to resolve this Europe-wide crisis. Priti’s Nationality and Borders Bill is the first step in addressing the broken asylum system and the pull factors it creates.’

    Last night French interior minister Gerald Darmanin blamed Britain for the Channel crisis, saying: ‘If migrants are coming to Calais, Dunkirk or northern France, it’s because they are attracted by England, especially the labour market which means you can work in England without any identification.’

    At yesterday’s meeting, France agreed to allow aerial surveillance of its coastline by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency from Wednesday. France had repeatedly rejected offers of aerial reconnaissance planes from the UK.

    A UK government source said: ‘We want close collaboration and we want to work together. For this to happen then we must be around the table.’

    A Home Office spokesman said Miss Patel spoke with Dutch migration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol and they ‘agreed that the tragic incidents of last week demonstrate the need for European partners to work together’. The spokesman added: ‘The Home Secretary expressed that it was unfortunate that she wouldn’t be present at [the] meeting of interior ministers in Calais to discuss this issue.

    ‘The Home Secretary and minister for migration discussed ideas for enhanced bilateral and EU co-operation, including the need to tackle the criminal gangs that are orchestrating these deadly journeys through shared intelligence and joint law enforcement initiatives. Both agreed that returns agreements are essential for breaking the criminal business model.’

    Despite his tantrum, the Home Office said Miss Patel spoke with her Dutch counterpart Ankie Broekers-Knol (pictured) yesterday and secured crucial agreements on reforms

    Despite his tantrum, the Home Office said Miss Patel spoke with her Dutch counterpart Ankie Broekers-Knol (pictured) yesterday and secured crucial agreements on reforms

    Talks with other nations are planned this week, it is understood. Three children, seven women and 17 men died off Calais on Wednesday last week while attempting to reach the UK from northern France.

    On Friday, Mr Macron criticised PM Boris Johnson for posting a five-point action plan on Twitter. It led Mr Darmanin to withdraw Miss Patel’s invitation to yesterday’s talks.

    The Home Secretary wrote in the Sun on Sunday: ‘We need to be creative about finding new solutions that will have the maximum possible impact, which is why the prime minister and I stand ready to discuss proposals with our French counterparts at any time.’

    Health Secretary and former home secretary Sajid Javid said the PM’s strategy – including joint Anglo-French patrols and return agreements – were ‘exactly the kinds of things we need to do’. ‘Our policy is very clear: these boats must stop. We do need the cooperation of the French,’ he told Sky News.

    More than 26,500 migrants have reached UK shores since the start of the year compared with just 8,410 in all of 2020.

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