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BORDER

Now France insists it won’t open UK border to migrants

While President François Hollande talked of Brexit "consequences" for the UK in terms of migrants, the country's interior minister has tried to play down talk of France forcing Britain to move its border home.

Now France insists it won't open UK border to migrants
UK border police working in Calais. Photos: AFP

France's interior minister on Friday sought to defuse a row over the fate of migrants in Calais should Britain leave the EU, saying there was “no question” of letting them freely cross the Channel.

“If we open the border tomorrow, what will happen? The British, who run their own border, will block them and send them back,” Bernard Cazeneuve said on BFMTV.

He said this would only increase the flow of people and “aggravate a humanitarian problem”.

“We don't need statements that create buzz on this topic, we need long-term action.”

The row broke out Thursday when France's outspoken Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron raised the possibility of camps similar to the so-called Jungle shantytown at Calais springing up on Britain's southern coastline.

He told the Financial Times that a so-called Brexit would scupper a bilateral agreement that allows Britain to conduct border controls on the French side of the border.

“The day this relationship unravels, migrants will no longer be in Calais,” Macron told the newspaper.

Asked about his comments during a summit meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, President Francois Hollande merely warned that “there will be consequences (to) the way in which we manage migration issues” if Britain voted in a referendum to leave the EU.

Cameron warned last month that a Brexit could mean British border checks being removed from Calais and that “there would be nothing to stop thousands of people crossing the Channel overnight.”

But campaigners in favour of Britain leaving the 28-member bloc accused Cameron of scaremongering and believe Hollande and Macron were simply acting on the Prime Minister's request to stir up fear.

Observers are sceptical that France would make a move that would only draw thousands more migrants to its northern coast.

Thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and war in the Middle East and North Africa have gathered in the “Jungle”, from where they make desperate bids to reach Britain.

The French government this week began dismantling the southern half of the camp, facing protests from residents who do not want to leave.

Firmly set on crossing the Channel, the migrants fear that if they move to better accommodation provided for them, they will be forced to apply for asylum in France.

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IMMIGRATION

French activists furious after UK charters jumbo jet to deport one migrant to France

Britain's deportation of a lone migrant to France aboard a private jet caused outrage in the city of Rennes this week where activists have gone to court to secure his freedom.

French activists furious after UK charters jumbo jet to deport one migrant to France
AFP

Britain's interior ministry was left red-faced last week when it emerged that officials had chartered a jumbo jet to deport a single 27-year-old Sudanese man to France.

French anti-racism group MRAP, which was called on to meet the flight in Rennes to help with asylum procedures, said it had been expecting a crowd.

“To our great surprise we saw a single Sudanese migrant emerge from the jumbo jet,” MRAP, which went to court Wednesday in Rennes to seek his release, said.

Britain's Channel 4 broadcaster reported that the man was deported under a European agreement that asylum applications must be processed in the country where a migrant first arrives.

It quoted the Home Office, Britain's interior ministry, as saying more people had been due to be deported, but were allowed to stay after last minute legal challenges.

MRAP said the man, whom it identified only by his first name Ismail, had survived “Libyan jails, crossing the Mediterranean, living on Parisian sidewalks, the 'Jungle' (migrant camp) of Calais as well as crossing the Channel.”

He had previously been ordered to leave France, which is when he made the voyage illegally to Britain.

MRAP said he was currently under house arrest.

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