French anger after UK PM calls on Paris to 'take back' migrants

Tensions between Paris and London are rising after 27 migrants died off the coast of Calais in the largest tragedy of its kind in the English Channel.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin cancelled on Friday the visit of his British counterpart Priti Patel to a meeting on migration scheduled for Sunday.

The move comes after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on France to “take back migrants” in a letter sent to French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

The letter furthermore proposed joint sea, air and land patrols starting as soon as next week — an idea which France has resisted.

In a message to Patel seen by AFP, Darmanin says that while the letter is a “disappointment,” making it public made matters even “worse,” prompting the cancellation of the visit.

In a phone conversation late on Wednesday, Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to step up cooperation to stop smugglers from organising the illegal Channel crossings.

Along with British officials, France had invited Belgian, German, Dutch ministers as well as the European Commission to a meeting in Calais on Sunday.