CALAIS, France – The mayor of Calais is calling for a revision of the border deal between France and the UK, saying migrant camps located on the French side of the English Channel should be moved to Britain, which must feel full consequences of its decision to leave the EU.
The British must take the consequences of their choice,” mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart said.
“We are in a strong position to push, to press this request for a review and we are asking the president [Francois Hollande] to bring his weight [to the issue],” she told French broadcaster BFM TV. “It is we who accept the hot potato.”
According to the mayor, the UK decision to leave the EU undermines the so-called Touquet deal reached between the two countries in 2003 which defined the rules of border control between France and Britain. The agreement stipulated that France would carry out border checks in Calais to intercept those seeking to make illegal crossings to the UK.
Bouchart stressed that the deal required negotiation due to Brexit referendum results, saying “there must be an element of division, of sharing.”
The suspension of the agreement would affect the biggest French refugee camp known as the ‘Jungle’ which houses over 3,500 people.
Xavier Bertrand, the center-right president of the Hauts-de-France region expressed the same stance.
“The English wanted to take back their freedom, they must take back their border,” he said. Earlier this year he referred to the Touquet treaty as “obsolete and outdated,” according to French media.
Prior to the referendum French government minister also warned of the “consequences” of Brexit.
“The day this relationship unravels, migrants will no longer be in Calais,” Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron said in February.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, however, doubted the agreement between the two countries would collapse.
“Calling for the border with the English to be opened is not a responsible solution,” Cazeneuve announced earlier this year. “It would send a signal to people smugglers and would lead migrants to flow to Calais in far greater numbers. A humanitarian disaster would ensue.”
Meanwhile French government spokesman Stephane Le Foll announced that Brexit vote would in no way affect bilateral immigration agreements.
“On the question of immigration, to be clear, British exit from the European Union will not lead to changes in terms of immigration treaties with United Kingdom… These are bilateral treaties,” he said.