Priti Patel ‘no longer invited’ to meeting says French Interior minister

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"This Government’s priority is keeping the people of this country safe, and we will stop at nothing to remove those with no right legal right to be in the UK" - Home Secretary Priti Patel. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street.

French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin has dramatically uninvited Priti Patel to a meeting in France to discuss plans to deal with the migrant crisis according to the French media.

A meeting between Home Secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin has been cancelled following a letter Prime Minister Boris Johnson sent to President Macron yesterday.

The public letter was described as “unacceptable” by the French Interior Ministry and said Ms Patel was “no longer invited” to the meeting with other European ministers on Sunday.

In his letter spelling out UK plans after 27 people tragically drowned in the English Channel, the Prime Minister called for a new “returns agreement” between the two countries.

The deal, if agreed by Paris, would see migrants who arrive on UK shores illegally sent back to France, with London taking in more child migrants with British family links in return.

Downing Street sees the pact as the best long-term solution to the escalating problem of boat crossings, as it would undercut smugglers promising a route into the UK.

The Prime Minister also set out proposals for British border officials to begin patrols on the beaches of northern France as early as next week – something Paris has long resisted.

A senior government source said:

“A returns agreement would be the single biggest deterrent of these crimes. If migrants that cross the Channel illegally are sent back to France, this totally busts the smuggling gangs.”

Other UK proposals include more sensors on French beaches, better airborne surveillance, extra maritime patrols and deeper joint intelligence work.

Ms Patel had been due to visit Calais on Sunday for talks with Monsieur Darmanin and her counterparts from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

The Prime Minister said he was ready to upgrade the meeting to a full summit of the countries concerned.

However, French media has now reported that a statement from the Interior Ministry says:

“We consider the British Prime Minister’s public letter unacceptable and contrary to our discussions between counterparts.

“Therefore, Priti Patel is no longer invited on Sunday to the inter-ministerial meeting whose format will be: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and European Commission.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s letter to President Macron was as follows:

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