France tries to solve the Channel migrant crisis…. without Britain: ‘Petulant’ Macron pushes on with Calais summit as banned Priti Patel rings round EU ministers pleading for action to stop more deaths
European ministers have gathered at the French port for talks following the shocking death of 27 people as they attempted to cross to the UK on Wednesday.
But the absence of Ms Patel and any British officials raises questions about how much progress can be achieved.
Mr Macron pulled the Home Secretary’s invitation after Boris Johnson wrote an open letter calling for more to be done to tackle the burgeoning problem of migrants setting sail from the French coat in small, vulnerable boats.
Ms Patel has vowed to ring round her counterparts to try to ramp up the response this week despite the ‘unfortunate’ decision to bar her from the meeting. She spoke to Dutch migration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol this morning.
Furious Tories lashed out at the petty reaction from Mr Macron, who is facing a looming presidential election, after he branded Mr Johnson ‘not serious’ for posting his letter on Twitter.
European ministers including France’s Gerald Darmanin (right) and Dutch migration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol (left) have gathered at Calais talks following the shocking death of 27 in the Channel on Wednesday
Ms Patel spoke to Dutch migration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol this morning
Boats thought to have been used in migrant crossings stored near Dover in Kent
One government source told MailOnline on the French reaction ‘just goes to show what we’ve been dealing with for the past two years’.
An aide to France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the aim of the summit is ‘improving operational cooperation in the fight against people-smuggling because these are international networks which operate in different European countries’.
Ms Patel told Ms Broekers-Knol it was ‘unfortunate’ she could not be present alongside the Netherlands, Belgium and the European Commission.
A Home Office readout of the call said: ‘They agreed that the tragic incidents of last week demonstrate the need for European partners to work together. It was clear that shared problems needed shared solutions.
‘The Home Secretary expressed that it was unfortunate that she wouldn’t be present at today’s meeting of Interior Ministers in Calais to discuss this issue.’
They also discussed ‘ideas for enhanced bilateral and EU co-operation’ as well as the need to tackle criminal gangs operating boat journeys across the Channel, it was said.
Ms Patel tweeted today: ‘I will be holding urgent talks with my European counterparts this week to prevent further tragedies in the Channel.
‘More international co-operation and passing our Borders Bill quickly into law will stop the people smugglers and save lives.’
She had said that failing to increase co-operation with Europe could cause ‘even worse scenes’ in the Channel this winter.
Ms Patel wrote in the Sun on Sunday: ‘There should now be an even greater onus on all of us on both sides of the Channel to act.
‘We have a long history of working constructively with our friends across the Channel on shared challenges.’
The Home Secretary added that she was ‘sorry’ not to have been at the meeting in Calais.
She said conversations with her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, had been ‘constructive’ on Thursday, though she did not use the same description for the talks on Friday.
France pushed on with efforts to solve the Channel migrant crisis without Britain today after ‘petulant’ Emmanuel Macron (left) banned Priti Patel (right) from attending a Calais summit
Mr Macron pulled the Home Secretary’s invitation after Boris Johnson wrote an open letter calling for more to be done to tackle the burgeoning problem of migrants setting sail from the French coat in small, vulnerable boats
Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News: ‘France blames Britain, Britain blames France. The truth is that both governments are engaging in a blame game while children drown off our coastline.
‘It’s just simply unconscionable and any responsible government on either side of the Channel would set aside those differences and work together to deal with what is a collective share problem that will only be solved together.’
Wednesday’s tragedy claimed 27 lives, said to have included an expectant mother, children and a 24-year-old Kurdish woman from northern Iraq trying to reunite with her fiance.
It was the highest death toll on record in the current crisis.