It is quite clear that a major row is now building up between England and France. It bas already been the case for months that the two countries are at odds over the matter of amending the Treaty of Rome so that England can . . . be released from the principle of free movement of labour within the EU. France will not have this at any price because the EU is sacrosanct. It’s got to be because the French are scared stiff of German economic strength — as they’ve been for the past 200 years — and will probably be dependent on German subsidies within a few years (or hope to be) — so they’ve got to show just how loyal they are to the EU.
The additional problem now at hand is that thousands of migrants — young men from Africa mainly — are now piling up at Calais. Even though the British police have been drafted over to Calais help the French police and have this year already intercepted 137,000 attempts at getting onto lorries destined for England, France has not acted to send even one of them back to their countries of origin. Last night 2,000 migrants rushed the security fences and the numbers camping in tents at Calais itself now numbers more than 5,000. It would seem that the migrants have already sensed that the resolve of the French and English government will not hold.
On this side of the Channel, hold-ups are causing 30-mile traffic jams. In the last few weeks the total economic costs to business is about £40 million, this to be added to the £100 million costs of security fencing already expended in France with another £20-40 million needed to upgrade the fencing to the highest terrorist-proof level.
Cameron is repeatedly ‘reassuring’ us how closely Theresa May, our Home Secretary, is ‘working’ with her French opposite number. It’s already obvious that a blazing row is already going on and that Cameron and Hollande will have to have a meeting themselves on this single issue alone. Hollande, much more intelligent and suave than Cameron will probably run rings round him and cause him to blow up. This possibility already adds to Osborne’s concern, mentioned in my previous posting today, that Cameron is not up to the job any longer and had better retire before he has what used to be called a nervous breakdown.
Cameron has a certain amount of PR ability when talking to punters here at home but he simply hasn’t got what it takes at international level. When the Chinese President three years ago visited a Chinese factory in England he was in and out of the country within a day and didn’t pay a visit to London to speak with Cameron. You can be sure that Cameron would have desperately wanted him to — but he simply doesn’t rate. Obama has never invited Cameron for a proper state visit — as has been customary for all British Prime Ministers for many years past.
Back to the current issue briefly, the French railway workers at Calais and the French police, with their own growing grievances with President Hollande over pay, have been reluctant to guard the Channel entrance tunnel adequately. Some of them have already said that they hope the migrants can get to England and away from France. Hollande has promised that he’ll bring in the army. But I imagine by now that Angela Merkel will have told him not to. We’ll have to see whether he does so. If he does, there’ll be more than one or two deaths, I imagine. What will that do for the reputation of the EU?
But how can the EU hold together for much longer anyway. How can 28 different leaders of different cultures with different economic priorities ever come to decisions on complex matters? They can’t make up their mind about mass immigration into the EU. They could only kick the Greece problem further down the road. It’s due for breaking up soon enough, and this is something that George Osborne is clearly understanding.