UK to pledge additional £44.5m to strengthen Calais border controls
Britain will pay more to help prevent migrants in France from crossing Channel
Britain plans to spend another £44.5m to strengthen UK border controls with fencing, CCTV and other technology in Calais and at other ports in France.
The existing 2003 Le Touquet border agreement was widely criticised in France after the town of Calais became a hub for refugees hoping to travel to Britain.
Prime Minister Theresa May is to make the announcement today during talks with President Emmanuel Macron during his first official visit to the UK, the BBC reports. May and Macron are meeting at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst and are expected to discuss cooperation on defence, counterterrorism, space technology and education, as well as the migrant crisis.
The five heads of the British and French security agencies will also be meeting together for the first time. Britain is to pledge to send three Chinook helicopters to Mali to offer logistical support for a French counterterrorism operation, while France will contribute troops to British-led Nato forces in Estonia in 2019, Reuters says.
The day-long photo op of political handshakes and smiles mask the French-Anglo tension beneath the surface, however, with May hoping that her flexibility will help ensure French goodwill in Brexit talks.
In what France24 describes as “diplomatic theatre”, Macron is expected to say France has agreed “in principle” to loan London the Bayeux Tapestry, the 941-year-old embroidery that recounts the 1066 Norman conquest of Britain. Despite the fanfare, Antoine Verney, director of the Bayeux Museum, has insisted that “nothing is set in stone”, CNN reports, and that the loan will be explored over the coming years.
The Guardian speculates that Macron means to make a “hard political point” about Brexit by mentioning the Bayeux Tapestry, with its metaphorical significance as a story of power politics.
“The English prince Harold forms an alliance with William of Normandy then betrays his promise to allow William to succeed,” the newspaper notes. “William invades, Harold is killed, and William rules England in his place.”