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Friday, November 26, 2021

Johnson abdicates control of our borders - to the EU

Boris Johnson doesn't do irony, or at least that is the impression he gives, otherwise why would he be trying to blame other countries for his government's failure to properly manage our borders?

It may well be that he doesn't understand what managing borders involves. It does not, for example, mean that we pull up the drawbridge, build a big wall and repel all those we don't like, though Priti Patel and he certainly give that impression.

Management in this context is putting in place and taking responsibility for proper and humane controls, the swift and efficient evaluation of entrees, especially asylum seekers, and tailoring entry requirements to the country's needs. It helps too, if we don't alienate other countries, whose co-operation is needed to deliver a better regulated border regime.

What happens when the UK government gets this wrong, starts to pander to popular sentiment, and politicises the deaths of men, women and children fleeing oppression, war or starvation, is illustrated in this article in the Guardian. We alienate our allies, lose control of our own agenda, and are left blustering at ourselves in a diplomatic corner, while others deplore our breaking of international conventions on refugees and our ignoring of international law.

Petty as Macron's actions are, it is little wonder that talks with the home secretary, Priti Patel, about the Channel boats crisis have been cancelled by France’s interior minister after Boris Johnson called on France to take back people who crossed the Channel to the UK in small boats:

In an escalation of the political crisis after the deaths of 27 people in the Channel, Patel’s counterpart, Gérald Darmanin, said France was disappointed by the demand.

“Making it public made it even worse,” he said.

Johnson had set out five steps in his letter to President Emmanuel Macron to avoid a repeat of Wednesday’s tragedy. In a message seen by the AFP news agency, Darmanin told Patel the letter from Johnson to Macron, suggesting France take back people who cross the Channel, was a “disappointment”.

Referring to Johnson’s posting of the letter on social media, he added: “Making it public made it even worse. I therefore need to cancel our meeting in Calais on Sunday.”

The French government’s official spokesman, Gabriel Attal, added to Darmanin’s criticism of Johnson’s letter on French television calling it “mediocre in terms of the content, and wholly inappropriate as regards the form”.

Attal told BFM TV the letter was “medicore because it does not respect all the work that has been done by our coastguards, police, gendarmes and lifeboat crews … It basically proposes a ‘relocation’ agreement, which is clearly not what’s needed to solve this problem.

“We’re sick and tired of this double talk and outsourcing of problems.”

France was planning to host ministers from all states with Channel coasts, including Patel, for a meeting on the refugee crisis in Calais on Sunday.

A source close to Darmanin told AFP and French media the meeting would be going ahead with the ministers from other European countries but said Patel was no longer invited after Johnson’s “unacceptable” letter.

The irony of course, is that the UK, which literally left the EU to "take back control of our borders", believes that it has no responsibility for the numbers of refugees arriving/ drowning in the Channel. In the Prime Minister's eyes, it is apparently all the fault of people smugglers and France for not keeping control of our borders.
Macron was said to be fuming at the "undiplomatic" publication of his letter on social media by Johnson. It is hard not to see this as a deliberate provocation by the PM.

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