Ben Habib criticises government’s response to France
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Ben Habib has called on the UK to cut off its funding to France, amid an escalating diplomatic row. The former Brexit Party MEP told GB News the UK has sent over £200million to Paris in recent years. This comes amid tensions between the two sides over the Channel migrant crossings after 27 people tragically drowned on Wednesday.
There is also a long-standing dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights, with French fishermen holding a day of action on Friday, including blockades to disrupt cross-Channel traffic.
Mr Habib said: “Well, our relationship with France has been in a downward spiral ever since we decided to leave the EU.
“Throughout the negotiations, it was the French who led on the desire to punish the UK for voting to leave. And things have just got progressively worse since we left.
“The first manifestation of our deterioration was in fishing, and we can see that continuing.”
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He pointed out that French fishermen “have 40 percent of the fishing licenses issued to fish in our waters”.
Mr Habib continued: “This latest row about the Channel comes squarely down to the French.
“We have a bilateral agreement with the French by which we have paid them £200m over the last few years – £50m a year.
“And they flagrantly breach this agreement with French policemen just watching these crafts launch.
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“The failure here is of the British Government not recognising we don’t have a workable relationship with France.
“And not taking unilateral action to get to grips with these issues.”
Back in July, the UK agreed to pay France £54m to help secure the borders, but the number of people making the crossing has continued to rise.
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The latest escalation in the French-UK row saw Paris disinvite Priti Patel from a summit to discuss solutions to the Channel crossings.
Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission are due to attend Sunday’s talks in Calais without the UK.
President Macron criticised Mr Johnson’s decision to issue a public letter detailing a five-point plan via Twitter.
The French leader accused the UK prime minister of not being “serious” by making the call on social media.
The French government’s official spokesperson, Gabriel Attal, called it “mediocre in terms of the content, and wholly inappropriate as regards the form”.
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