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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Interaction between France and the UK is hampering progress at crossing the English Channel

“Migration heightens the feeling that Boris Johnson does not understand his blue-collar political base,” said Matthew Goodwin, a professor of politics at the University of Kent. And in contrast to previous concerns about immigration, he said channel crossings are “a much more emotional and symbolic form of migration that reinforces in some voters the feeling that there is very little government can do to control the issue.”

Mr Goodwin said the opposition to migrants did not coincide with the return to prominence in Britain of Nigel Farage, the right-wing Brexit leader who has long campaigned against immigration. Mr Farage, now a host of the GB News, regularly criticizes the influx of boats.

While the issue of migrants has long been a source of friction between the UK and France, it has also spawned examples of creative collaboration.

In 2003, the two countries signed the Le Touquet Treaty, which placed border guards in each other’s jurisdictions so that they could check travelers’ passports before they cross the canal. This reduces the number of asylum seekers in the UK, as some are turned away before they reach UK soil, where they are entitled to apply for asylum under international law.

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Now diplomats fear that the treaty could fall prey to escalating tensions. The French Foreign Ministry insisted it would stick to the agreement. But Mr. Zemmour, for example, called on France to tear it apart, saying it was an insult to the French. According to experts, this will do more harm to the UK than France, since the flow of migrants is one-way.

In addition, they said, the UK and France need to work together to develop ways to monitor the coastline. In his letter, Mr. Johnson proposed sending British police officers to patrol French beaches – a proposal that is likely to stay with the French and a sign that the two countries are still operating on separate pages.

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