Relations between Paris and London were already seen as being at their most tense in decades following a series of disputes over Brexit, but the personal criticism between Macron and Johnson represents a further turn for the worse.

Dozens of migrants and refugees on an inflatable dinghy leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel.
Dozens of migrants and refugees on an inflatable dinghy leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel. (Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters)

The European Commission's Vice President has told the UK it has to sort out its own border problems following Brexit.

"The UK has left the European Union," said the Greek politician Margaritis Schinas who is coordinating a new agreement on migration and asylum.

"So the UK should now decide how to organise its border management control," Schinas told reporters on the southeastern Greek island of Kos to reopen a refugee camp.

Seventeen men, seven women and three minors died on Wednesday when their inflatable boat lost air and took on water off Calais, dramatically escalating a crisis that had already seen around 25,700 people cross the busy shipping channel this year in small boats.

"If I recall well the main slogan of the referendum campaign is 'we take back control'," he added.

"Since the UK took back control it's up to them now to find the necessary measures to operationalise the control they took back."

READ MORE: Channel deaths reflect the moral rot of Britain and France

Blame game

After the latest refugee tragedy, the UK and France have launched a war of words.

French President Emmanuel Macron hit out at British Prime Boris Johnson on Friday over a tweeted letter, accusing him of being "not serious".

Johnson sparked fury in France after writing a private letter to Macron on Thursday evening proposing five ways to stop refugees and migrants crossing from France to the UK, then publishing it in full on his Twitter account.

"I am surprised by methods when they are not serious. One leader does not communicate with another on these questions on Twitter, by public letter... No, No," Macron told reporters in Rome.

In response to Johnson's letter, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin cancelled planned talks with his British counterpart Priti Patel on Sunday, informing her that she was no longer invited to a meeting with other European ministers.

READ MORE: UK urges 'coordinated' response after deadliest English Channel crossing

Source: AFP