The French government has slapped down suggestions that, after Brexit, they will scrap a deal with the UK placing border checks in France and insuring illegal migrants are not waved across the English Channel.
Under a bilateral treaty signed in 2003, known as the Le Touquet accord, British officials can check passports in France and vice-versa.
During the referendum campaign, however, David Cameron suggested the deal could be scrapped, bring the illegal migrant camps from Calais to Kent. He was accused of “scaremongering” and “project fear”.
“But the border is where it is… there are bilateral agreements that are very important…” said French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, this Friday when asked about the possibility of ending Le Touquet.
“Would that also mean putting in place boats for people who otherwise risk drowning? I think we should be serious,” he added in an interview publish on a government website.
The Le Touquet accord was made independently of the European Union (EU), between the British and French governments.
Illegal migrants trying to enter Britain are kept in Europe, with many choosing to stay in the ‘Jungle’ camp from where they launch clandestine attempts to enter the UK in the back of lorries or hidden in ferries.
Following Mr. Ayrault’s instant dismissal of the prospect of scrapping this system, a spokesman for the government, Stéphane Le Foll, reaffirmed the French government’s position.
“The output of the United Kingdom of the European Union does not modify the Franco-British bilateral treaties on immigration,” he told Le Figaro on Friday.
Despite the government’s clear position, the Mayor of Calais and other local politicians have said they want Le Touquet reconsidered.
“The British people have chosen to take back their freedom, they must take back their borders,” Xavier Bertrand, head of the Hauts-de-France region that includes the Calais camp, told the Telegraph.
“Boris Johnson wanted change and he got it with Brexit. So do we”, he added.