Monday, 6 Dec 2021

‘Humans not political footballs!’ Sturgeon loses patience with France and UK bickering

French police round up migrants on coaches

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The Scottish First Minister unleashed both barrels at Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron after 27 people died while trying to make the perilous crossing yesterday. Among the dead were three children and a pregnant woman.

News of the tragedy sparked an outcry over the ongoing issue – which is seen by many as a political football that the French and British kick between themselves.

The SNP leader pointed to the human cost that this point-scoring was causing.

Sharing an article about the harrowing tragedy, she tweeted: “Those seeking refuge from dreadful conditions are human beings, not political footballs.

“They’re driven to smugglers out of desperation & lack of humanitarian routes.

“This, and root causes, need (to be) addressed if such tragedies aren’t to be endlessly repeated.”

France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin revealed that five people had been arrested.

He said two survivors were in hospital in a critical condition after developing severe hypothermia.

As the fallout from the tragedy escalated, Downing Street engaged in a distasteful war of words with the French over who was to blame.

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The Prime Minister claimed there had been “difficulties” persuading the French “to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves”.

In response, the French President told Mr Johnson “he was expecting the British to co-operate fully [and] abstain from instrumentalising a tragic situation for political purposes”.

None of this title-tattle has stopped a record 47,000 migrants attempting to cross the English Channel this year alone.

Of this number, more than 25,700 were successful – over three times the 8,469 that did so in 2020.

And while 1,552 smugglers have been arrested in northern France and 44 smuggler networks dismantled since January – it appears that this has done little to stop people making the dangerous crossing.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she had spoken to her French counterpart and offered more resources to solve the problem.

She also said the tragedy was a shock by not a surprise, adding: “It is also a reminder of how vulnerable people are put at peril when in the hands of criminal gangs.”

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