Boris Johnson has been accused of making a “mockery” of British-French relations, and been told he must “take responsibility” for the migrant crisis following last week’s fallout. France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin said the Prime Minister had acted in a “peculiar” fashion by opting to post on Twitter a letter to French president Emmanuel Macron outlining his proposed solutions to the small boat crossings in the Channel. The former Conservative leader claimed Mr Macron is using a hatred towards the UK to try and become more popular in his presidential race.
Speaking to LBC, Sir Iain said: “Sometimes I listen to the media… you’d think that France objecting or getting angry with the UK is something new and it’s all got something to do with Brexit.
“French fishing fleets were blockading Dover and Calais whilst we were in the European Union, they were threatening the Channel Islands whilst we were in the European Union.
“It’s got nothing to do with some of the Brexit stuff, it’s all to do with the French attitude I think, particularly the governing class, towards the UK.
“There is a kind of peculiar resentment I think, at times, towards us.”
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He added: “And in the middle of a run to an election, it’s always the case of, it seems to me, of ‘go after the les Anglais’ as they refer to it ‘and give them a good kicking’.
“And that way you become more popular because you look like you’re tough standing up to the British but nine times out of ten it’s complete and utter rubbish and it’s all done for show.”
Mr Duncan-Smith continued: “Any sensible set of governments would sit down with each other to get these things resolved, instead of which, the French have complained because Boris Johnson made it public, well, that’s what politics is all about, and now he has thrown his toys out the pram.”
Paris was so enraged by the publication of the letter that it opted to withdraw the invitation for the UK to join weekend talks with other European ministers about how to stem the flow of people across the strait.
Counterparts from France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the European Commission met in Calais on Sunday, but neither Home Secretary Priti Patel nor British officials were present after being told they were not welcome.
The Prime Minister’s letter to Mr Macron had come after a dinghy capsized in the Channel Sea on Wednesday, claiming 27 lives.
Mr Darmanin said the British leader had looked to make a “mockery” of France by, according to the minister, urging Paris to “take back their migrants”.
Speaking to BFMTV, Mr Darmanin said: “When there are serious diplomatic exchanges… and lives that are at stake… and some minutes later you see that a letter, which no-one has ever mentioned before, is published on Twitter from the British Prime Minister to the President of the French Republic before the President of the Republic has received it, it’s a bit peculiar.
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“When in this letter the English say the French should ‘take back their migrants, all their migrants’, it’s a mockery.”
He added that British-French relations were not currently “normal” and that “our private exchanges are not always in line with our public exchanges”.
The senior French politician also tweeted on Monday, urging the British Government to “take responsibility” for the migrant crisis.
No 10 has previously looked to play down talk of a bilateral rift.