French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron has said he will renegotiate France’s border agreement with the UK if he beats Marine Le Pen in this Sunday’s poll, a move that could result in the construction of a migrant camp on the south coast of England.
Speaking with French TV channel TF1, the centrist candidate said: “I want to put the Le Touquet border deal back on the table. It must be renegotiated, especially the parts that deal with the fate of isolated child migrants.”
Macron previously said he wanted to tear up the Le Touquet agreement when he was economy minister, telling the Financial Times last year that France should shift the UK border across the Channel from Calais if Britain voted to leave the EU.
“The day this relationship unravels migrants will no longer be in Calais,” he said at the time.
The bilateral deal lets both countries operate border controls in each other’s Channel ports and Eurostar stations, allowing Britain to stop thousands of migrants attempting to reach the UK from northern France.
Calais and its surrounding areas have attracted large numbers of migrants seeking to reach the UK for years.
Last October, French authorities were forced to dismantle the notorious Calais Jungle camp, a squalid shantytown where thousands of UK-bound migrants lived at the mercy of ruthless gangs of people smugglers.
Just weeks ago, the Grand-Synthe migrant camp in Dunkirk, a few miles up the coast from Calais, had to be pulled down after large parts of it were destroyed in fires started during running battles between separate groups of migrants.
For France, tearing up the Le Touquet agreement and pushing the UK border back across the Channel would help rid its northern towns of people smuggling gangs, and go some way to preventing the almost inevitable establishment of new migrant camps across its northern coastline.
Responding to Macron’s comments, a UK government spokesperson said: “We have always been very clear that protecting and enhancing the shared border between the UK and France at Calais is in both the UK and France’s best interests.”
After Macron made his comments, a man thought to be a migrant was electrocuted after attempting to climb on to the roof of a Eurostar train heading for London at Paris’s Gare du Nord station.
The man was said to have died instantly when he came into contact with overhead power lines.
Speaking with the Le Parisien newspaper, a source said identification of the man’s remains would be difficult as he had been burned beyond recognition.
The incident marked the second time a migrant has been electrocuted at the railway station. An Egyptian teenager attempting to reach the UK died in similar circumstances in 2015.