Channel ‘one area where we lost control’ says Kim Darroch
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The UK has been embroiled in a tense battle of wills with France over the growing number of attempts to cross the Channel onto British shores. The debate became embittered following the death of 27 people on Wednesday, with the two Governments now putting pressure on each other for immediate action to put an end to the crossings. Former Ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch said the debate showed Brexit resulted in the UK “losing control” over its borders despite Britons hoping to regain fuller control by leaving the European Union.
Sir Kim told LBC: “Let’s remember that when we were in the EU, under the Dublin Convention, there were rules that allowed us to send migrants back to the EU country in which they first arrived.
“People will tell you they weren’t much used, they were complicated, we only sent back a very handful of people.
“But we at least had that then. And with Brexit, which British people voted for so there we are, we don’t have that anymore.
“So, in terms of taking back control, this is one area where we lost control.”
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The former diplomat also challenged Boris Johnson’s tactics to pressure France into additional action to tackle the migrant crisis in the Channel.
The Prime Minister sparked the fury of Emmanuel Macron after he released a letter addressed to the French President in which he set out his demands on Twitter.
Sir Kim said: “It was designed to show to the domestic audience that the Prime Minister and Number 10 were gripping the issue and were putting some pressure on the French to do something.
“And implicitly signalling that basically, the fault is on the other side of the Channel.”
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He added: “You can see why they’d want to do this because it has become a live political issue in this country.
“But sometimes you do things for short-term effect which have damaging longer-term consequences.”
In retaliation for the publication of the letter, Home Secretary Priti Patel was uninvited from a meeting with her French counterpart Gérard Dermanin scheduled for Sunday.
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But despite the tension over the past few days, Home Office minister Damian Hinds insisted relations between France and the UK remain “strong.”
Mr Hinds defended the Prime Minister’s letter to President Macron as “exceptionally supportive and collaborative”.
Mr Johnson called for joint UK-French patrols by border officials along French beaches to stop boats leaving, which Paris has long resisted.
Mr Johnson also called for talks to begin on a bilateral returns agreement, saying it could have “an immediate and significant impact” on attempts to cross the Channel after the UK left a European Union returns agreement with Brexit.
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