Emmanuel Macron calls on Britain to change policies to tackle migrant crossings

·2 min read

The French President has warned that the problem of migrant crossings in the Channel cannot be solved unless the UK changes its policies.

Speaking to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, Emmanuel Macron said there needed to be “legal, stable” routes to be able to migrate to the UK, and likened the British Government’s current approach to that used in the 1980s.

In a speech to mark France taking over its six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, he said: “Ultimately we cannot solve that problem if the way in which migratory flows are seen from the British side doesn’t change.

Brexit fishing dispute
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) alongside French President Emmanuel Macron (Alastair Grant/PA)

“Our British friends at the moment are trying to adopt an approach which is the one that prevailed at the start of the 80s where you’ve got a level of acceptable economic illegal migration. You allow people to work without papers because it’s helpful to the economy, but that doesn’t face the reality of migratory flows now.

“Secondly, there need to be legal, stable routes to be able to migrate to the UK and this is a situation that we’re confronted with. This is a dialogue that we need to pursue with the UK. It’s a horrendous humanitarian situation, but that’s the reality.”

His comments coincided with more people being brought ashore in Dover on Wednesday, as crossings in the first month of 2022 continue to outstrip numbers for January last year.

Around two dozen people arrived at the port onboard Border Force patrol boat Speedwell, wearing lifejackets and beanie hats.

Almost 1,000 people have crossed to the UK on small boats so far this year, compared with 223 in January 2020, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

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