PARIS (Reuters) – French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said Britain’s own labour laws encouraged migrants to attempt the perilous crossing of the Channel by dinghy and that it was France which suffered from London’s own inaction.
British frustration at the number of migrants illegally crossing the Channel from French shores has resurfaced in recent days after more than a 1,000 reached southern England in a single day last week. But Darmanin said responsibility lay at Britain’s door.
“If the British overhauled their (labour) legislation – they started doing it but haven’t gone far enough – there would be no people in Calais and Dunkerque”, he told CNews TV, referring to the northern French port cities where migrants typically hunker down before attempting the crossing.
He added: why do they go to Britain? Because the British labour market functions, in many ways with an army of reserves, as Karl Marx would say, of irregular workers.”
The Telegraph newspaper reported on Sunday that Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel would tell Darmanin this week that France must stop every boat loaded with migrants trying to cross the Channel.
French police say that while they are preventing more dinghies from making the crossing, they can only stem the flow. The migrants are too numerous, the shore too long and the smugglers too good at eluding security to intercept every dinghy, they say.
Darmanin said he was due to host Patel for talks on Monday evening.
“We don’t need lessons from our British friends,” he said.
“It is we who are negatively affected by Britain’s policy. 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.”
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Ed Osmond and Richard Lough)