French president Emmanuel Macron is in the UK to establish the next generation of UK-France relations, outside of the overseeing eye of the European Union (EU).
Ahead of the summit which marks Macron’s first visit to the UK as France’s premier, the UK prime minister Theresa May said:
“Today’s summit will underline that we remain committed to defending our people and upholding our values as liberal democracies in the face of any threat, whether at home or abroad.”
Whilst talks on immigration, terrorism, and Brexit have all been on the table, here are the big announcements from the visit.
Macron and May on the refugee crisis
One of the big issues facing Macron’s premiership is what to do with all the refugees stuck in Calais, trying to get to the UK.
In order to offset this issue, UK prime minister Theresa May has agreed to pay £44.5m for extra security measures in ports such as Calais and possibly Dunkirk. The funds will go towards fencing, CCTV, and other detection technology.
According to The Guardian, this brings the total British funding for security and policing in Calais to over £150m since 2016.
Macron and May on terrorism
As part of Macron’s UK visit, the UK has agreed to support French counter-terrorism operations in Africa.
May has announced that three RAF Chinook helicopters will provide logistical support to French troops in Mali. The Prime Minister’s office says this is part of a wider effort to increase stability in the Sahel region of Africa in order to tackle Islamist terrorism.
It’s important to note that British military personnel will not be involved in combat operations through the deployment of the Chinook helicopters.
Macron and May for Nato
It’s not all May give and Macron take with this summit. As part of the discussions, France has agreed to commit troops to the UK-led Nato battlegroup in Estonia. The group is positioned there as part of Nato’s Enhanced Forward Presence in Eastern Europe. It provides deterrence in the face of increasing Russian assertiveness, according to Number 10.
Number 10 said this was part of:
“Both the UK and France’s shared commitment to upholding the deterrence and defence posture of Nato, and more widely our firm resolve and commitment to European security.”
Macron tells May his views on Brexit
Macron is very much a fan of the EU and has been using his time as France’s president to promote Europe around the world.
Ahead of the summit today, a key aide to the French head of state hinted that Macron would use the visit to dissuade May to go ahead with Brexit.
“If tomorrow, or the day after, the United Kingdom decided to change its mind, it’s clear that we would look at this with kindness,” said the aide.
“But it’s not up to us if the United Kingdom wants to change its mind.”
Unfortunately for Macron, May has been very clear that Brexit means Brexit.
Macron gives May the Bayeux Tapestry
For the cherry on the cake of Macron’s UK visit, the French president has confirmed the loan of the Bayeux tapestry to England. The medieval artwork is significant to both countries as it depicts the Norman invasion of the UK and the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
This is all on the basis that the artwork is safe to move. As it was made in the 11th Century, it is currently undergoing tests to determine this.