Macron to be left furious as Jacob Rees-Mogg takes hilarious jibe at French cooking

Jacob Rees-Mogg pokes fun at France over the migrant crisis

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In comments likely to cause a stir across the Channel, the Leader of the Commons appeared to mock French culinary culture. He joked about their love to be heavy-handed with garlic as he faced calls to declare small boats crossing the English Channel a national emergency.

In 2021 more than 28,000 refugees risked their lives to make the treacherous journey across the Dover Strait from France.

In November 27 migrants lost their lives as they attempted to make the crossing in a small inflatable boat.

In the Commons, Conservative MP Jacob Young pushed for ministers to take action so less migrants leave “the safe haven of France” for Britain and “so no more lives are needlessly lost at sea”.

Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “I wonder how often France has been called safe in this particular chamber over the centuries, but I think we can accept that it is safe for most refugees – except those who don’t like garlic who may need to escape.

“What has been going on in the Channel is appalling and is something that should concern us all because it is led by people smugglers.

“It is led by evil people and it has led to deaths, and we need to protect further lives from the most dangerous crossings and break the business model of the criminal gangs who exploit desperation.”

The potentially inflammatory remarks come after a deterioration in relations between London and Paris over how to tackle illegal crossings.

French President Emmanuel Macron lashed out at Boris Johnson last year on the issue, describing him as a “clown”.

He also sparked outrage when he uninvited Home Secretary Priti Patel from a meeting on how to stop future tragedies follow the migrant deaths last November.

Mr Macron took the action after taking umbrage at Mr Johnson publishing a letter on social media about the deaths.

He said the Prime Minister needed to “get serious” if he wanted discussion with France on the matter.

The President said: “For my part I continue to do that, as I do with all countries and all leaders.

“I am surprised by methods when they are not serious.

“We do not communicate from one leader to another on these issues by tweets and letters that we make public.

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“We are not whistleblowers. Come on. Come on.”

The Government continues to consider various options to tackle migrant crossings and has invited businesses to a non-disclosure, agreement-bound meeting in the hope of hearing “innovative ideas”.

In September 2021 the Home Secretary also gave legal consent for Border Force to “push back” refugees trying to reach the UK into French waters.

Mr Rees-Mogg told the Commons this morning the UK and France were continuing to work closely together to fix the issue.

He said: “Since the joint intelligence centre was established in July 2020, we have dismantled 17 small boat organised crime groups and secured over 400 arrests.

“UK immigration forces have secured 67 convictions for the criminals joining small boats crossings since January 2020, resulting in sentencing totalling over 54 years.

“Our Nationality and Borders Bill will give us more powers, including being able to do things like check people’s age so that we know the facts we are getting when people claim asylum, which should make our system firmer and fair.”

The Nationality and Borders Bill has passed through the Commons and is now being debated by the Lords.

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