Sunak and Macron agree greater cooperation on Channel migrants, claims UK PM's office

AFP/The Local
AFP/The Local - [email protected] • 28 Oct, 2022 Updated Fri 28 Oct 2022 13:49 CEST
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Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had his first phone call with French president Emmanuel Macron on Friday. Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron in their first call since Sunak took office agreed on greater cooperation to prevent migrant Channel crossings, Downing Street said on Friday - although the French statement after the meeting did not mention the issue.


A British spokesperson said the leaders "committed to deepening our partnership to deter deadly journeys across the Channel that benefit organised criminals".

However, the spokesman for the Elysée did not mention Channel crossings, saying only that Macron had "expressed his readiness to work closely with the Prime Minister to deepen the bilateral relationship between France and the United Kingdom, particularly in the fields of defence, strategic affairs and energy."

Sunak stressed the "importance for both nations to make the Channel route completely unviable for people traffickers".


This year, a record number of 37,570 people have crossed the Channel to England in small boats.

The issue has caused a major political headache for the UK government, which promised tighter border controls after leaving the European Union.

Tensions have risen between London and Paris, with the UK government accusing France of not doing enough to stop the crossings, while the French government said that the UK had not delivered on promised payments for extra policing of the Channel coastline.

READ ALSO What is France doing to stop illegal Channel crossings?

The Times newspaper claimed on Friday that Sunak wants to tighten up terms of a draft deal with France on cross-Channel cooperation and make it "more ambitious".

Sunak wants the draft deal with France to include a minimum number of French officers patrolling beaches, the report said. It said the prime minister also wants new internal targets for the UK interior ministry to process 80 percent of asylum claims within six months, to reduce the current backlog.

Sunak's interior minister Suella Braverman supports a government plan to send migrants and asylum seekers who arrive by boat to Rwanda - a scheme strongly opposed by the UN High Commission for Refugees which describes it as "contrary to the letter and spirit of the Refugee Convention".

Macron and Sunak agreed on a bilateral summit, to be held in 2023. 



AFP/The Local 2022/10/28 13:49

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