UK-France tensions are rising over the death of 27 people in the English Channel this week.
The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel was meant to attend a meeting with her French counterpart, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, and other European ministers on Sunday. But Patel’s invitation has since been retracted by Darmanin.
The decision to disinvite Patel came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent a public letter to French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday night outlining five steps to prevent a similar tragedy in the future. But the letter was sent as a tweet, and just in time to land on the front pages of the UK’s newspapers.
French officials said that Macron had not even had a moment to see it before it was widely published, and had never been sent privately before tweeting it.
The French officials said that the letter was “unacceptable,” and therefore Patel is “no longer invited.” A meeting of European ministers will still take place over the weekend, but now noticeably with a British absence. In attendance will be France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the European Commission.
The French Interior Ministry expanded on how the letter was unacceptable, saying that the letter was in contradiction to discussions held between the two countries about the issue. The choice to send it publicly was deemed to make Johnson’s suggestions “even worse.”
Macron said that world leaders do not communicate on serious issues like these over tweets and public letters. A government spokesperson said that the content was mediocre, and the format was wholly inappropriate.
Johnson’s letter said that France and the UK need to work together to deal with the crisis, and proposed that the UK send British border officials to patrol northern French beaches as soon as possible. This is a measure that France has greatly resisted.
This is the latest row between the two countries in a string of disagreements, most of which have had to do with the fallout from Brexit.
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