Brexit Britain sidelined as Theresa May not invited to migration crisis summit

Merkel, Macron, and Rajoy were all invited to the Paris summit

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Saturday 02 September 2017 20:43
Comments
Theresa May has struggled to win friends in Europe
Theresa May has struggled to win friends in Europe

Britain was sidelined from talks about the refugee crisis this week after Theresa May was excluded from a major summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Amid growing concerns about Britain’s waning influence abroad, Downing Street confirmed Theresa May was not invited to the Paris summit attended by Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

The meeting, which was also attended by leaders from Libya, Chad and Niger, was aimed at addressing the progress of refugees and migrants through the so-called “western Mediterranean route” to Europe – which sees tens of thousands of people travelling from Africa every year, some to Britain.

The Government says the lack of an invite for Ms May was justified because Britain is leaving the EU; however, the policies agreed at the meeting are likely to be relevant to the UK.

Some migrants who travel the western Mediterranean route from Africa end up trying to reach the UK and the largest group of migrants in the Calais “jungle” camp is fleeing Sudan – a country at the end of the route.

Jo Swinson, Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesperson and deputy leader told The Independent the lack of an invitation for Ms May showed that Britain was gradually seeing its influence in world affairs wane to that of a “rocky outcrop off the shores of Northern Europe”.

“It is becoming increasingly clear that Theresa May is leading Britain into decline,” she said.

“The UK is seen to have closed its door to the rest of the world, under this Government we face a marginalised future on the fringes of the world stage.

Refugee child receiving rations in Greece (Getty)

“Theresa May should see the lack of a UK invite to this summit as a wake-up call, we need to stay in the single market, stay in the customs union and continue to play a role in world affairs. Instead she is letting us become no more than a rocky outcrop off the shores of Northern Europe.”

A Brussels-based official said: “We are just not being taken seriously at the moment.”

Leaders at the summit agreed an action plan to boost border controls and coastguard patrols in the African countries that attended the summit. A scheme to process asylum applications in Africa was also brought forward.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The meeting was focused on the future of the EU so as such we were not invited. This is the latest in a series of meetings with the last one being held at Versailles in March, which we also did not attend. We will of course continue to work with the EU and our international partners on this and other migration issues.”

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