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UK needs to sort out its labour market, warns French minister

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Migrants claiming to be from Darfur, Sudan cross the English Channel in an inflatable boat near Dover, Britain, on August 4, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

The French government is “negatively affected” by UK’s labor laws which have forced thousands of migrants toward the perilous crossing of the English Channel, according to French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin.

Talking about the situation on France’s northern coastline from where thousands of migrants are waiting to make their way to Britain, Darmanin said it was the UK’s inaction that encouraged people to attempt the perilous crossing.

“Why do people go to Calais? To get into Britain. And why do they want to go the Britain? Because the British labour market functions, in many ways … with irregular workers,” he said.

Thousands of migrants illegally cross the Channel from French shores each week. In a single day last week, more than a 1,000 reached southern England through English Channel.

"We’re not taking lessons from the British … they must stop using us as a punching bag for their domestic politics. We are neither their collaborators nor their assistants," Darmanin said. “I would remind my British counterpart that the NGOs that are preventing the police and gendarmes from working (in Calais) are largely British NGOs with British citizens who are in French territory engaged in agitprop."

On the other side, the UK lays the responsibility on the French door. According to the Telegraph newspaper, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to tell Darmanin this week that France must stop every boat loaded with migrants trying to cross the Channel.

Meanwhile, the French police complains that the migrants are too numerous, the shore too long and the smugglers too good at eluding security to intercept every dinghy. So, they can only stem the flow of dinghies.

Darmanin said he is going to host his British counterpart on Monday evening to have talks on the matter.

“We don't need lessons from our British friends,” he said, adding that “we will remind the British minister (...) that we need Britain to take decisions (...) and that we should stop being seen as a punching ball for Britain's internal policy squabbles."

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