The French Government has dismissed David Cameron’s claim that it would scrap a border agreement with Britain in the event of a Brexit.
The agreement, drawn up as part of a bilateral treaty between the two countries, allows the UK to operate its border controls on the French side of the channel.
The Prime Minister was accused of scaremongering yesterday when he said leaving the EU would lead to the deal being scrapped – and the refugee and migrant camps in Calais relocating to southern England as a result.
A French interior ministry source however pointed the Daily Telegraph newspaper to a recent statement by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and said it had “no plans” to change the agreement.
Mr Cazeneuve had explicitly ruled out changing the border agreement and said such a move could lead to a humanitarian disaster.
"Calling for the border with the English to be opened is not a responsible solution,” he said in October last 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. It is a foolhardy path, and one the government will not pursue."
The rejection appears to be embarrassing for Mr Cameron, who made the argument in a speech yesterday in the hope of convincing people concerned about immigration to back EU membership.
However, Sir Peter Ricketts, former UK ambassador to France and former national security advisor to David Cameron warned that France’s stance might not last forever.
What has the EU ever done for us?
What has the EU ever done for us?
1/7 1. It gives you freedom to live, work and retire anywhere in Europe
As a member of the EU, UK citizens benefit from freedom of movement across the continent. Considered one of the so-called four pillars of the European Union, this freedom allows all EU citizens to live, work and travel in other member states.
2/7 2. It sustains millions of jobs
A report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, released in October 2015, suggested 3.1 million British jobs were linked to the UK’s exports to the EU.
3/7 3. Your holiday is much easier - and safer
Freedom to travel is one of the most exercised benefits of EU membership, with Britons having made 31 million visits to the EU in 2014 alone. But a lot of the benefits of being an EU citizen are either taken for granted or go unnoticed.
4/7 4. It means you're less likely to get ripped off
Consumer protection is a key benefit of the EU’s single market, and ensures members of the British public receive equal consumer rights when shopping anywhere in Europe.
5/7 5. It offers greater protection from terrorists, paedophiles, people traffickers and cyber-crime
Another example of a lesser-known advantage of EU membership is the benefit of cross-country coordination and cooperation in the fight against crime.
6/7 6. Our businesses depend on it
According to 71% of all members of the Confederation of British Influence (CBI), and 67 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the EU has had an overall positive impact on their business.
7/7 7. We have greater influence
Robin Niblett, Director of think-tank Chatham House, stated in a report published last year: “For a mid-sized country like the UK, which will never again be economically dominant either globally or regionally, and whose diplomatic and military resources are declining in relative terms, being a major player in a strong regional institution can offer a critical lever for international influence.
He said that the French government was using up significant political capital and police resources in its operation in Calais and that opposition parties were keen to pull out of the agreement.
“This treaty is a bilateral treaty but it was made in a multilateral context where Britain and France are working together across a whole range of issues,” he told BBC Radio 4.
“If the context changed and Britain made a major decision to leave the EU I think it’s highly likely France would review its position too.
“There’s a lot of pressure already, if you look at the main opposition party in France, Les Republicains, they’re already openly calling for that treaty [to be scrapped].”
Thousands of people are living in camps in northern France, including Calais and Dunkirk, unable to reach the UK.
The number of people living in the camp is small compared to the total number of refugees entering Europe as a whole – with millions entering the continent in 2016, according to a European Commission estimate.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously called for the Home Office to be “reasonable” and consider allowing those people in the camps with links to the UK to be admitted.
Mr Cameron previously sparked outrage by referring to the residents of the camp as a "bunch of migrants".Reuse content