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France, UK battle over refugees, fishing and Brexit

Ramin Mazaheri

Press TV, Paris

Relations between France and the United Kingdom are reaching tragic new lows in the English Channel. British cargo vessels were blocked from docking in French ports, the latest escalation in what should be a minor economic dispute over fishing rights. French fishermen say their livelihoods are being manipulated by Paris and Brussels in order to deter another Brexit.

Another surprising row has erupted following the recent drowning of some 30 refugees off the coast of Calais, the deadliest such accident ever recorded. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a diplomatic request calling for joint Franco-UK maritime patrols, and also new immigration agreements with both France and the European Union.

Paris didn’t only reject the suggestions, they disinvited the UK to emergency talks on preventing more drowning, as refugees continue to set sail for England. Many are saying that Macron’s “form over function” complaint about Johnson’s letter reveals that he’s trying to politicize English Channel crises for election-related gains.

Two far-right candidates are threatening to run away with April’s presidential election largely on immigration-related issues. Macron continues to retain a hard-core base of support of around 20% of voters. While that may be enough to put him into the second round, many wonder if the deeply-divisive president will become the nation’s third consecutive one-term president. As post-Brexit Europe settles into hardened reality issues both minor and major may become over-politicized with increasing regularity.

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