France accuses UK of ‘quasi-modern slavery’ amid Channel crisis row

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A senior French minister has accused Britain of an economic model of “semi-modern slavery” amid an ongoing dispute over small boat crossings in the English Channel.

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France’s Europe Minister Clement Beaune called on Boris Johnson’s government to “change the law” and crack down on migrants able to work in Britain without legal paperwork.

“There is an economic model of semi-modern slavery, or at least illegal work that is very strong,” he told BFMTV.


Mr Beun claimed the migrants were making the dangerous crossing “because it is possible to work in England without an ID card” and “because there is no legal way for migrants to get to the UK”.

It comes as Emmanuel Macron’s government puts forward its own proposals to deal with the channel crisis, suggesting talks with the UK could resume after days of tension.

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Interior Minister Gerald Dormanin said Prime Minister Jean Castex would write to Mr Johnson on Tuesday with proposals for a “balanced agreement” between Britain and the EU.

Mr Darmanin said if the British government was prepared to hold talks in “serious spirit”, the discussion could happen “very quickly”.

Mr Johnson angered Mr Macron when he posted a letter on Twitter calling for joint patrols on French beaches and the return of migrants who succeeded in making dangerous Channel crossings.

But speaking at a news conference on Monday evening, Mr Darmanin said the two countries could still work together on possible solutions to a common problem.

“There is no double-speak at this time, and we can discuss in serious spirit, and our private exchanges are in line with our public exchanges, with the French government ready to resume discussions with Great Britain,” he said. “

Mr Darmanin said Tuesday’s proposals sent by Mr Castex to No 10 could include ways to open a legal route to the UK for asylum seekers, and allow single minors to join relatives in the UK .

Downing Street continued to insist a return agreement – as Mr Johnson set out in his letter – would be the “single biggest deterrent” for migrants attempting a Channel crossing.

Mr. Darmanin has made it clear that the question of the return of refugees will have to be agreed with the EU. He said there was a possible deal to return some migrants to Britain in exchange for accepting unaccompanied minors – but only on a “one-for-one” basis.

The French interior minister also said that France could not accept the practice of UK ships returning boats at sea, adding: “This is a red line for the French government.”

As Brexit the UK is no longer a party to the EU’s so-called ‘Dublin’ rules, which once allowed the government to ask people from other European countries to withdraw if it could prove they were safe on their way to the UK. countries passed.


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