France Accuses UK Home Secretary of ‘Financial Blackmail’ in Dispute Over Migrant Crossings

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has accused UK Home Secretary Priti Patel on Thursday of “financial blackmail” and a violation of international maritime law.

Darmanin said that the UK plans to turn back some boats carrying migrants across the Channel to England and send them into French waters would not be accepted by his government.

“France will not accept any practice that breaks maritime law, nor any financial blackmail,” tweeted Darmanin. 

Patel claimed to have secured legal advice for Border Force vessels to turn away boats, but only in limited circumstances, away from UK waters and back towards France.

French officials have also been angered by suggestions that Britain could withhold some of the €62.7m (£55m) fund that was promised earlier this year to police and patrol in northern France to prevent border crossings.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman denied the accusations, saying that the government has “provided our French counterparts significant sums of money previously, and we’ve agreed another bilateral agreement backed by millions of pounds.”

Illegal migration is anticipated to be the subject of focus for the final day of the G7 meeting on Thursday as Border Force boats remained active in the Channel.

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