Europe, News Watch, Side Feature

Europeans Trade Blame While Migrants Die

The French president Emmanuel Macron accused the UK prime minister of not being “serious” by making the call on Twitter, after the deaths of 27 people on Wednesday.

The diplomatic row erupted after France withdrew a summit invitation to Home Secretary Priti Patel. The UK government urged it to reconsider, with the PM saying: “This is a problem we have to fix together.”

Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission are due to attend Sunday’s talks in Calais, which Mr Macron set up to deal with the recent surge in migrant crossings of the Channel.

The sinking of an inflatable boat on Wednesday marked the biggest loss of life by drowning in the Channel in many years, with 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children dying.

Ahead of Sunday’s meeting, in a letter to Mr Macron on Thursday which was shared on Twitter, Mr Johnson set out five steps which he said could help avoid a repeat of the tragedy. These included joint patrols, better use of technology such as sensors and radar, maritime patrols in each other’s waters and stronger cooperation by intelligence services.

The letter also called for immediate work on a policy of returning migrants who reach the UK to France, alongside talks to establish a UK-EU returns agreement.

At a press conference on Friday, Mr Macron attacked Mr Johnson over the posting of the letter on Twitter, saying: “I spoke two days ago with Prime Minster Johnson in a serious way.
“For my part I continue to do that, as I do with all countries and all leaders. I am surprised by methods when they are not serious. We do not communicate from one leader to another on these issues by tweets and letters that we make public. We are not whistleblowers.”

A French government spokesman accused Mr Johnson of saying different things in his conversation with Mr Macron and in the letter, adding: “We are sick of double-speak.”

The UK insists the prime minister’s letter was sincere, meant to be constructive, not combative. The prime minister is under pressure from many of his own MPs – who in turn are under pressure from a substantial number of their voters – to do more to stop the small boats coming to our shores. So it was perhaps unsurprising that Boris Johnson made his letter to the French president public, portraying himself as offering potential solutions.
The French believe Mr Johnson is in an uncomfortable position with his supporters now, having promised that Brexit would mean “taking back control” of UK waters and borders.

It’s well known in Whitehall that Boris Johnson has been frustrated at the continuation of the migrant crisis. His critics say he has focused too much on small boats, while not doing enough to tackle the underlying factors driving migration. (Source BBC)

The ugly truth of Capitalism in Europe is that migrants themselves are viewed as the problem, rather than colonial foreign policies that continue to provide the causes for migration. While the French and British governments squabble over who will refuse entry to the migrants, they continue to suffer and die. All proposed solutions focus on making Europe an even more hostile environment for those who attempt to travel there. With rampant racism and inequality already a fundamental feature of life in Europe, it is difficult to imagine how it could become more hostile. Yet it is becoming just so. Britain is this week also preparing legislation that will follow other European states to strip citizenship from the descendants of migrants. This is all in spite of the recent awareness campaigns aiming to expose the deep roots of racism in the West. Unsurprisingly, the elite class who have the most to lose from genuine justice and an end to their privilege are fighting back against foreigners who would disrupt the status quo, focusing on the migrants themselves in the hope that their own colonialist crimes overseas will be forgotten in the frenzy.

Yahya Nisbet
Media Representative of Hizb ut Tahrir in Britain