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French politician says UK ignoring 'gravity of the problem' in Calais

French politician Xavier Bertrand
French politician Xavier Bertrand DR

A candidate of the French right-wing party Les Républicains in upcoming regional elections has accused the UK of rejecting its responsibilities in the Calais crisis.

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Xavier Bertrand, the main opponent to Front National candidate Marine Le Pen in the next regional election, has attacked the UK government on the Calais crisis, arguing the British do not understand "the size and the gravity of the problem".

"Let's let the migrants leave and let Mr Cameron handle his politics in his own way, but on his own island," Bertrand declared in an interview for Journal Du Dimanche.

The comments from Bertrand, who was France's health minister from 2005 to 2007, fall within the blame game the UK and France have been playing concerning refugees in Calais. While Britain accuses France of security failings, France reproaches the UK for having what it calls loose labour laws, and thus luring them to its shores.

British Interior Minister Theresa May responded by saying that "many see Europe, and particularly Britain, as somewhere that offers the prospect of financial gain. This is not the case - our street are not paved with gold".

As British Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to negotiate new terms regarding UK's membership in the European Union, Bertrand agreed with May, insisting it is a European issue that needs a European solution.

Mr Cameron has called French President François Hollande to immediately organise a meeting on the Calais situation.

A policeman was hit by rocks Sunday night as authorities were evacuating about 20 people near the tunnel. Since June, at least 10 people have died in nightly attempts to cross the Channel Tunnel.

On Monday, Britain's government promised new measures to crack down on illegal immigrants by making landlords evict them.

Landlords in England who do not remove people with no right to remain in Britain, or fail to check their immigration status before renting them a property, could be jailed for up to five years. The new rules are set to be included in a new immigration bill that parliament will debate in the coming months.

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