The UK does not expect to strike a deal with Emmanuel Macron’s government over migrant Channel crossings before the April French election.
Just under 30,000 migrants crossed the English Channel from Calais, France last year – an almost fourfold increase from 2020 – which is the most ever on record.
Senior Home Office staff have reportedly “all but given up” hope of reaching a quick agreement with Paris to resolve the situation and new proposals will be tabled “once the heat of the election is over”, according to The Times.
Urgency was injected into resolving the situation in November when 27 people died while making the crossing, which led to emergency talks between Paris and London.
Talks soon broke down after Macron and Boris Johnson had a very public row, with the French President calling the Prime Minister a “clown”.
A Home Office official who was at the talks told The Times: “Macron’s officials just sat there saying ‘non, non, non,’ to all our proposals. They didn’t have to say it but they were basically saying there’s no chance of a breakthrough before the election.
“With it being so close to the election, it’s politically difficult for [Macron] to be offering any kind of significant concessions to the British.”
The first round of the French Presidential election is being held on 10 April and Macron’s two major challengers are the far right Marie Le Pen and centre right Valérie Pécresse.
Closing a deal on migration with the UK in the next few months would likely be used against Macron by his two main challengers as apparent evidence he is soft on illegal immigration.