Nov 26, 2021 13:24 UTC
  • Furious France bars UK minister from meeting on migrants

The French government has banned UK Home Secretary Priti Patel from a meeting over the Channel migration crisis, amid rising tensions between the neighboring countries which are also at odds over other issues such as post-Brexit fishing rights.

France and the UK, which have been maintaining poor ties since the Brexit, are currently trading blame over the deaths of at least 27 migrants whose inflatable dinghy sank off the northern port of Calais on Wednesday while trying to cross the Channel to Britain.

The incident was the worst disaster on record involving migrants in the narrow seaway separating the two countries.

The French government on Friday banned Patel from a meeting over the Channel migration crisis and scrapped talks with him.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told his British counterpart Priti Patel that she was "no longer welcome" at the weekend talks, BFM TV reported.

The ban came after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in a letter to President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, slammed Paris' handling of the situation.

The letter sparked an outcry in France, with a source close to Darmanin describing the message as "unacceptable and contrary to the spirit of our discussions between partners".

For its turn, London called on Paris to reconsider the meeting snub. "No nation can tackle this alone and so I hope that the French will reconsider," Transport Minister Grant Shapps told BBC News on Friday.

French fishermen threatens to block ports, Channel Tunnel

French fishermen planned to block French ports and the English Channel on Friday to disrupt trade between Britain and Europe, amid a bitter row between the neighboring countries over post-Brexit fishing rights.

Earlier in the day, they prevented a small British cargo ship from docking in Saint-Malo.

They also planned to block ferries in Saint-Malo, Calais and Ouistreham and the highway leading to the tunnel beneath the Channel.

The Associated Press quoted Olivier Lepretre, president of the regional fishing committee, as saying that the blockades are “a warning shot”.

The fishing crews are protesting to “respond to the derisive and humiliating attitude of the English,” Gerard Romiti, president of the national fishing committee, told reporters.

The French fishermen are angry at the British government for not granting more licenses for fishing deep inside British waters. They are also angry at their own government due to its failure to defend them.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Johnson said the UK was “disappointed by threats of protest activity”.

The fishing industry is economically tiny but symbolically significant for both Britain and France.