Good morning. Last night Boris Johnson published the text of an open letter (pdf) sent to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and suggested various measures France could take to help stop people crossing the canal on small boats. One of his suggestions was that France should simply take people back after they have arrived in Britain.
As he explained in a Twitter thread, this could serve as a massive deterrent, he claimed.
The letter has gone very badly in Paris. Like my colleague Rajeev Syal reports, the French have now told Priti Patel, the interior minister, that she is no longer invited to a meeting to be held on Sunday to discuss the situation.
If the Johnson letter was intended to promote co-operation with the French, it has clearly given very bad setbacks. But because of Johnson’s decision to make it public, it is suspected that it was written primarily to a domestic audience, rather than to the Élysée Palace, and that the Prime Minister simply wants to ensure that British voters give France, not his government , blamed for ongoing crossings.
On the program Today this morning Grant Shapps, the Secretary of Transportation, insisted that Johnson had acted “in good faith” and that the letter was not “inflammatory”. He told the program:
I think it’s really important that we work hand in glove with the French. I do not think there is anything inflammatory about asking for close cooperation with our closest neighbors.
The proposal is made in good faith. I can assure our French friends of that, and I hope they will reconsider meeting to discuss it.
Here is the agenda for the day
9.30: MPs are debating the second reading of Liam Fox’s private member’s law on Down syndrome.
9.30: ONS publishes preliminary figures for excess mortality for last winter.
11:00: French fishermen plan to block the port of Calais in protest of post-Brexit fishing licenses. Later, they plan to block the Channel Tunnel.
11.30: Downing Street is holding its lobby briefing.
12:00: ONS publishes its latest weekly Covid infection survey.
12:00: David Frost, the Brexit minister, will meet his EU counterpart, Maroš Šefčovič, in London in the latest round of negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
14:00: Keith Brown, the SNP deputy leader (or deputy leader as the SNP calls the post, using the Scottish spelling), is giving a speech at the SNP’s online conference.
Afternoon: Adam Price, Plaid Cymru leader, will speak at his party conference.
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