France has cancelled a crucial meeting on the migrant crisis scheduled between home secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart in protest at the UK’s public demands.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin has scrapped his Sunday meeting with Ms Patel, with his ministry saying she was was “not invited any more” to discussions involving European counterparts.
The ministry described Boris Johnson’s public letter to French president Emmanuel Macron – in which he called for joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches – as “unacceptable”.
The minister statement said: “We consider the British prime minister’s public letter unacceptable and contrary to our discussions between counterparts.”
It added: “Therefore, Priti Patel is no longer invited on Sunday to the inter-ministerial meeting whose format will be: France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany and European Commission.”
The decision underlined the tense post-Brexit relations between the two countries and the difficulties they face in working together after 27 people drowned trying to reach British shores on Wednesday.
Seventeen men, seven women and three teenagers died on when their dinghy deflated in the Channel, one of many such risky journeys attempted in small, overloaded boats by people fleeing poverty and war in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.
The deaths deepened animosity between Britain and France, already at odds over post-Brexit trade rules and fishing rights.
Mr Johnson said France was at fault while Mr Darmanin accused Britain of “bad immigration management”.
French news agency AFP said the cancellation followed a letter from Johnson to President Emmanuel Macron sent on Thursday.