UK’s new PM touts migrant cooperation after Macron meet
Britain’s new prime minister Rishi Sunak on Monday vowed imminent action on cross-Channel migrants after his first face-to-face meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Sunak has taken a much more positive tone toward Macron than his short-lived predecessor Liz Truss, who infamously refused to say whether the president was a friend or foe.
The leaders met on the sidelines of the UN’s COP27 climate summit in Egypt, with Sunak under pressure from days of bad headlines on the fate of migrants holed up in one UK detention center.
“It was great to meet President Macron to talk about not just tackling illegal migration but the range of other areas in which we want to cooperate closely with the French on,” he told UK media.
“And I think there is an opportunity for us to work closely, not just with the French but with other (European) countries as well,” he said.
“You will hear more details about that in the coming weeks as those conversations happen among all our teams.
“But I’m actually leaving this with renewed confidence and optimism that working together with our European partners, we can make a difference, grip this challenge of illegal migration and stop people coming illegally.”
Some 40,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, with predictions numbers could hit 50,000 or even 60,000 by the year-end.
That has caused a logjam in asylum claims and increased accommodation costs estimated by the UK government at £6.8 million ($7.8 million) a day.
Sunak insisted his beleaguered interior minister, Suella Braverman, was getting to grips with the crisis, while stressing it lacked “one simple solution that’s going to solve it overnight.”
In its own account of the meeting, Macron’s office said only that he and Sunak agreed to “stay in contact” on the migration issue.
They also discussed climate commitments at COP and the war in Ukraine, agreeing to support the “vital needs” of the Ukrainian armed forces through the winter months, the Elysee said.
Macron invited Sunak to a Paris conference on December 13 about Ukraine, it said.