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Emmanuel Macron: French president claims British government ‘doesn’t do what it says’ amid strained relations | World News


French President Emmanuel Macron has claimed the British government “doesn’t do what it says” as relations between the two countries are strained over migration, fishing and security.

Mr Macron made the remarks as he urged the UK to make it easier for people to apply for asylum, and harder to work illegally, in a bid to stem dangerous small boat journeys across the English Channel.

The French president also accused the British government of reneging on promises over fishing licences, and of betraying French-UK friendship by signing a secret submarine deal with the US and Australia.

A group of more than 40 migrants get on an inflatable dinghy, as they leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel, near Wimereux, France, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
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Thousands of migrants have been making the dangerous crossing from France to the UK this year

Mr Macron said Britain had pushed for the AUKUS security pact that prompted Australia to cancel a contract with France to buy subs.

The cancellation of the submarine deal caused an uproar in France, with accusations that its allies had stabbed it in the back.

However, Mr Macron’s remarks on Thursday were the first time he publicly accused Britain of being “a fervent promoter” of the rival deal.

Nations ‘need to work together in good faith’

The British government “doesn’t do what it says”, Mr Macron told a news conference.

The two countries “need to work together in good faith”, notably on migration, he said.

Thousands of migrants have left from the French coast in recent months in flimsy inflatable boats to try to reach Britain.

“Why are these women and men in these terrible conditions? Because they don’t want asylum in France,” Mr Macron said.

He urged Britain to create clearer paths to asylum to deter people from making the risky crossing.

Mr Macron also said some migrants are attracted by a British economic model that “depends on illegal work by foreigners”.

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Britain and France have accused each other of not doing enough to prevent the deaths of at least 27 migrants whose boat capsized last month off the coast of Calais.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill would tackle illegal immigration and the “underlying pull factors into the UK’s asylum system”.

French fishermen want more licences from UK

Mr Macron also said that France will decide with the European Commission on Friday on the next steps in France’s fishing dispute with Britain.

French fishermen are angry at the British government for not granting more licences to fish in UK waters after Brexit.

The fishing industry is economically tiny, but symbolically important for both Britain and France.

“I like Great Britain. I like its people,” Mr Macron said.

“I want terribly to have a government that wants to work simply in good faith.”

France’s seas minister Annick Girardin said the UK had issued 1,004 licences but that 94 licences were still pending.

The UK government has insisted the overwhelming majority of applications have been granted and it has licensed “nearly 1,700 EU vessels to fish in our waters”.



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