France to ferry migrants to UK hours after Brexit

French officials reveal they plan to cancel UK border controls in Calais as soon as Britain votes to leave EU, and ship migrants over.

Ari Yashar ,

Migrant in front of burning shelter in the Calais 'Jungle'
Migrant in front of burning shelter in the Calais 'Jungle'
Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Following on French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron's threats last Thursday, according to which France will end an agreement on UK border controls in Calais if Britain votes to leave the EU, local French officials on Sunday fleshed out their plans.

Mayor Franck Dhersin of France's Teteghem told the British Sunday Express that France is ready to put migrants living in shacks at Calais and waiting to enter the UK on ferries, and send them to Britain the day after a "Brexit" were to occur.

Dhersin said the Touquet agreement from 2003 which places the UK border at French ports will be done away with immediately, if the UK decides to leave the EU. France, he said, would hire DFDS ferries to immediately ship over migrants from Calais and Dunkirk to Dover.

Calais Mayor Natalie Bouchart backs the ferry plan, as does Xavier Bertrand, president of the Nord-Pasde-Calais-Picardie region.

“We all believe that Britain will vote to leave the EU because of the rise of nationalism, not only in your country, but in other European countries as well," said Dhersin to the Sunday Express.

“Then the Touquet agreement we have at the moment, which puts the UK border in France, will quickly come to an end. Be in no doubt, it will no longer exist. The border will move to Dover and so the migrants who come to Calais and other ports and towns in northern France will then be put on DFDS ferries and taken to Dover. This will happen. ...So Britain had better start getting ready."

A senior local government official in northern France was quoted by the paper saying, "we have been closely looking at the treaty with Britain and we think it can be undone quickly."

"We have lived with the issue of migrants for 10 years or more and we are not impressed with the British position so we are planning for an out vote. We think that is likely. We see it as an opportunity to solve this problem and let the British deal with it."

In response to the statements, Tory MP Steve Baker who is the co-chairman of Conservatives for Britain, said, "the British people will not respond well to blackmail."

"These are hollow threats. Any immigrants brought over on a ferry to the UK illegally would be sent back to France and the ferry companies would be fined. We want to have friendly relations with all European countries after we Vote Leave. All talk of recrimination is counterproductive," said Baker.

His comments were backed up by those of Tory MEP Dan Hannan, who said, "if French politicians think the British people respond to bullying or threats, they haven’t read our history."