A new-found bond between Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak has boosted confidence that the UK and France can work together to help end the migrant crisis and small boats across the Channel. The two leaders are set to meet on Friday to hammer out a fresh deal but Whitehall insiders believe that the war in Ukraine and a dislike of Boris Johnson have brought the two together.
Officials have privately described the meeting as “Macron or bust” with a deal with France key to Mr Sunak’s strategy to end the small boats crossing the Channel.
Already, though, the Prime Minister has pointed out that since the two last discussed the issue patrols to tackle the problem and catch the people traffickers have doubled.
But the French are expected to want more money to help close down the opportunities for the illegal migrants to cross the Channel this year.
However, concerns that Macron could cause problems have faded because the two leaders have been drawn together over war in Ukraine and Boris Johnson’s departure which some observers believe has led to “a love-in” between the two men.
One source told Express.co.uk that President Macron had “a strong dislike of Boris” because of Brexit and the subsequent negotiations.
The source added: “There is no doubt that [Rishi] Sunak and Macron have a much better relationship.”
However, another foreign source suggested that the war in Ukraine was “a big wake up moment for the EU”.
The source noted: “There is no doubt that there has been a change of focus and they [the EU and member states] have appreciated that while we left the EU we did not leave Europe.”
The source insisted that bilateral relations between the UK and individual member states have “particularly improved”.
The better relations were what enabled the UK and EU to get a deal on Northern Ireland with Brussels making more concessions than previously thought possible on the British side.
France though has already had £232 million from the UK to tackle the illegal migrants issue and will be expecting more.
But a Whitehall source noted: “If we think it is bad here it is [the migrant crisis] is an even bigger problem for the French.
“We need them and they need us on this one.
“The small boats are not just a British problem but also a French and European wide one.”