Britain bears responsibility for migrant deaths – Macron

The French president has labelled Westminster “hypocrites” in the ongoing row over illegal Channel crossings

Speaking to regional French newspaper La Voix du Nord on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would be “stepping up” pressure against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to establish a legal route to Britain for asylum seekers. 

Reiterating a previous remark, the French leader insisted that the British economy is reliant on low-paid, illegal migrants who do the jobs Britons just won’t consider doing.

“The British continue to have a system from the 1980s, which manages economic immigration through hypocrisy. There is no legal immigration route,” he stated.

“The British must articulate their needs in terms of the economy and reopen a path to legal asylum requests. We are going to step up the pressure,” the French leader, whose current term comes to an end in April, told the paper.

France has urged the UK to set up processing centers for asylum seekers and establish legal routes for migration, something Britain is yet to do.

Speaking in 2021, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that migrants had no other choice but to cross the Channel if they wanted to claim asylum in the UK. It was also claimed that Britain’s relaxed labor practice encouraged migrants to illegally move to the UK and seek employment. 

Britain has called on Paris to do more in stopping migrants setting sail from France, even providing financing to enhance French naval patrols.

Despite this, migrant crossings grew considerably in 2021 and have continued to do so in 2022. In January, UK authorities intercepted or rescued 1,341 people making the perilous crossing to Britain, compared to 223 the year before.

Many asylum seekers have been put up in British hotels at the taxpayers’ expense as they await processing. 

The Nationality and Borders Bill which is currently being discussed in the House of Lords could radically change things. It proposes ruling asylum claims as inadmissible if the claimant arrives by an illegal route, such as crossing the Channel from France on a small boat. They may even receive a jail sentence.

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