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French MPs demand referendum on immigration after Macron's row with Italy and UK

NewsFrench MPs demand referendum on immigration after Macron's row with Italy and UK

Right-wing French MPs are calling for a referendum on immigration reforms as Emmanuel Macron’s policies are failing to contain illegal migration. Les Republicains party MPs Aurélien Pradié and Pierre-Henri argued for a vote on new laws that would “move from under skilled family immigration to immigration of chosen and over-qualified work” towards France.

Writing in the Sunday Journal (JDD), the two MPs said “the migratory chaos is gradually taking over the daily life of our fellow citizens”, adding Macron’s proposed bill on migration must be postponed until the fall.

For this, the two elected officials hope to file, “with many of their fellow MPs, in the coming weeks a shared initiative referendum”.

The Constitution allows such a referendum to be organised on the initiative of at least 185 parliamentarians, supported by a tenth of the voters (4.87 million).

Such a move has so far never been successful.

But they wish to focus their proposal on “improving the return rates of illegal immigrants by automatically freezing the issuance of visas, residence permits, money transfers and official development aid for any country that does not grant at least 50 percent of the consular passes required for expulsion”.

They will also offer access to non-contributory benefits under the condition “after five years of legal presence in the country”.

Finally, they ask for the reinstatement of the double penalty which allows for the expulsion from French territory of a foreigner convicted of a crime once the sentence has been served.

Pradie wrote on Sunday: “Refusing to take back control of migration is to let the national pact crack.”

Macron’s migration proposals have already caused diplomatic spats with Italy and the UK so far.

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Last week, Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Thursday abruptly halted his trip to Paris, calling out “unacceptable” remarks by the French interior minister who had criticised his nation’s migration policy.

Italy has demanded clarification of the remarks made by French minister Gerald Darmanin to RMC radio who blamed Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni for increasing numbers of migrants, notably minors, at the French-Italian border.

Darmanin told the broadcaster that Meloni “is incapable of resolving the migration problems for which she was elected”. He also accused her of “lying to the population,” a “vice” he said was shared by the far-right.

The remark was both a dig at Meloni and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, noting that Meloni was elected by Le Pen’s “friends”.

The president of Le Pen’s National Rally visited the border area on Wednesday, seemingly to revive the migration issue.

Darmanin’s comments came as Tajani was preparing to fly to Paris to meet with his French counterpart.

The Italian foreign minister said the “offences” launched by the minister against the Italian government weren’t in “the spirit in which shared European challenges should be faced”.

The French Foreign Ministry backed off from Darmanin’s remarks, saying that French-Italy ties are “founded on mutual respect, between our two countries and between our leaders.”

The statement said the French government wants to work with Italy on the issue of migration, particularly in the central Mediterranean, in a spirit of solidarity, in a reference to Tunisia.

Italy and France have sparred over migration policing since Meloni took office last year as Italy’s first post-war far-right leader.

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