French interior minister Gerald Darmanin, 39, entered a crisis meeting with European counterparts and border agencies amid concerns about the ongoing Channel crossing crisis. The meeting comes after 27 migrants died in the Channel trying to reach British shores.
The UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, 49, was a notable absentee from the meeting after France disinvited the Witham MP when they took exception with Boris Johnson, 57, for publishing a letter sent to the French President Emmanuel Macron, 43, on social media.
But the diplomatic row has not brought to an end accusations by officials in Paris that the Channel crossing crisis is predominantly a UK problem.
According to the Guardian, Mr Darmanin, an ex-member of the centre-right Les Republicains, said issues along the 21-mile strait are “first and foremost an English issue” and claimed the UK must “accept its responsibilities”.
He told French news network BFM TV: “Today, people who want to seek asylum in England have no other means than to cross the Channel.
“This is because there is no legal way for immigrants to go to Great Britain and because you can work without identity papers in England and that creates a demand.”
Darmanin added France is prepared to resume cross-Channel discussions once “double talk” in London had come to a close.
Mr Darmanin’s comments were echoed by France’s European minister Clement Beaune, 40, who accused the UK of having an “economic model of, sometimes, quasi-modern slavery”.
He went on to tell French Inter the UK should change its legal framework and introduce “more humane” labour market regulation to discourage Channel crossers.
Paris is said to have instead pushed for London to allow asylum seeker applications to be processed in France before Britain accepts those who are then approved.
But the UK is reported to have rejected such a suggestion.