Paris has rejected the idea of a joint British-French patrol in the Channel to fight illegal migration, with the country's PM Jean Castex stating that keeping UK military away from its borders was a matter of 'sovereignty.?
The formal rejection was pronounced in a letter, sent by Castex to his UK counterpart Boris Johnson. Excerpts from the letter were published by the media late on Thursday, with the full text expected to be officially published shortly.
"We cannot accept...that British police or soldiers patrol on our coasts. It's a question of sovereignty and I know your government's sensitivity towards respecting the sovereignty of others," Castex wrote.
At the same time, the prime minister reiterated Paris' readiness to pursue "operational cooperation" with London, yet did not appear to outline any specific measures in the field.
The document comes in response to an open letter, sent by Johnson to French President Emmanuel Macron last week. Apart from floating the idea of joint patrols in the English Channel, the British prime minister also suggested returning all migrants, who crossed into the UK by sea, back to France. The explosive proposal, however, was not directly addressed by Castex in the new letter.
While Johnson argued it "would significantly reduce - if not stop - the crossings," the proposal caused an uproar in Paris. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, for instance, stated that France would not be "held hostage by domestic British politics," urging London to lower its "economic attractiveness," which Paris believes to be the root of the illegal migration issue.