Nicolas Sarkozy has promised to “go to London the day after the [French] presidential election” to renegotiate an agreement allowing UK border checks to be enforced in France.
The former president, who is running to regain his country’s highest office, signed the Touquet agreement himself in 2003 when he was interior minister.
However, he has vowed to scrap it several times this year, and now says he wants to see “detention centres” set up in the UK as the illegal migrant camps in Northern France are dismantled.
“Since most of these foreigners come to Calais to enter the UK, I want our British friends to now take charge of the processing of applications from those who want asylum, in a detention center, in Britain, and also take charge of the return of those who will be rejected,” he told La Voix du Nord newspaper yesterday.
“It’s not on French soil that we must address the admission records to enter the UK”, Mr. Sarkozy added.
His calls come after a surge in the size of the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais to 10,000 and a “peak” in violence there. They were made the day before hundreds of truckers, dockworkers and farmers shut down main roads into the port town in protest.
“I want first of all to pay tribute to the calm inhabitants of Calais, who demonstrate composure, generosity and a sense of responsibility”, the former president said. “For years, they have alone carried on their shoulders the attractiveness of the UK for migrants worldwide”.
Specifically, Mr. Sarkozy proposed creating teams of British and French police and customs teams to conduct preliminary checks on migrants and decided whether they are processed in the UK or France.
This would mean scrapping the Dublin agreement, which says migrants should claim asylum in the first safe EU nation they enter, and could allow them to “shop around” EU nations.
“Instead of letting migrants stay for months in the camps of Calais without their cases being treated, they must be controlled by French and British police and customs teams”, he said.
“In my mind, the applications should be processed on British soil. This is the only way to organize the dismantling of the Jungle [migrant camp]…”
Mr. Sarkozy is currently a candidate to become the presidential nominee for the centre-right Les Republicains party.
He has been attempting to talk tough on immigration as polls suggest that Marine Le Pen of the Front National will beat his party in the first round of voting.