Gavin Mortimer Gavin Mortimer

France’s left-wing coalition would unleash migrant chaos on Britain

A French gendarme watches migrants waiting for a bus in Calais (Getty images)

Emmanuel Macron has described the left-wing coalition’s manifesto as ‘totally immigrationist’. The Popular Front, which brings together Communists, Greens, Socialists and Anti-Capitalists, was formed at the start of last week to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections.

While there has been the odd divergence on personnel – notably who should be prime minister in the event the left wins the election on 7 July – one issue on which the Popular Front is agreed is immigration: the more the better.

The French left describes immigration as ‘an opportunity’ for the Republic

Its manifesto states that once in power it will establish a maritime rescue agency to help bring migrants across the Mediterranean. It is also committed to extending a ‘dignified welcome’ to all migrants, and to that end it will ‘revise’ Macron’s recent asylum and immigration bill. Under a left-wing government, migrants will receive social support, visas and/or work permits and access to state medical aid.

Workers, students and parents of school-going children will be regularised, and a ten-year residence permit will be the standard residence document for all arrivals in France.

But Macron is hardly in a position to criticise other parties for their lax immigration policies. Since he came to power in 2017, the number of legal and illegal arrivals in France has soared to unprecedented levels.

A recent study found that immigration and purchasing power were the two issues that most influenced how the French electorate voted in last week’s European election. Marine Le Pen’s National Rally romped to a landslide victory in the election.

In an op-ed in Tuesday’s Le Figaro, Nicolas Pouvreau-Monti, the director of the Immigration and Demographic Observatory, laid bare Macron’s own ‘Immigrationist’ policy.

In 2023, a record 323,260 first residence permits were granted to non-European immigrants, a 40 per cent increase on 2016 – the year before Macron was elected president.

On average, Macron’s administration has issued 275,000 first residence permits each year to non-European immigrants, a total of nearly two million since 2017. The majority of permits have gone to Tunisians, Moroccans and Algerians.

Similarly, there has been an explosion in the number of asylum applications, most of which come from Afghanistan, Guinea and Turkey. In 2023, 145,095 claims were registered in France, an 89 per cent increase on 2016, the last year of Francois Hollande’s Socialist government.

A total of 825,000 first-time asylum applications have been registered in France since 2017, explained Pouvreau-Monti, meaning that ‘under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, France has thus welcomed the equivalent of a city like Marseille made up solely of asylum seekers’.

For obvious reasons, the figures for illegal immigration are more inexact but a think-tank report at the end of 2023 estimated a figure somewhere between 800,000 and 900,000, which means that between 2015 and 2022 the number of illegal immigrants in France has probably risen by around 400,000.

In short, Macron is the most pro-migrant president in the history of the Fifth Republic. He talks tough on the issue – and pockets huge sums of money from the British government with a promise to crack down on the problem – but voters on both sides of the Channel aren’t fooled.

It is, in effect, an open invitation to come to France and make a new life

On the day Macron was accusing the left-wing coalition of being ‘immigrationist’, Sky News broadcast a despatch from Calais. As dozens of French police watched from the beach, Kurdish people smugglers loaded dozens of migrants into inflatable dinghies and one after another waved them off north. 

John Vine, the former chief inspector of borders, expressed his disbelief at the footage, given that Macron and Rishi Sunak had pledged last year to stop such scenes. ‘One wonders what on earth is happening,’ said Vine.

The smugglers know that under French law the police can’t enter the water to impound a vessel that hasn’t asked for assistance; they also know that the police are under constant scrutiny from left-wing politicians, judges and journalists.

In March this year, 200 migrants gathered on a beach at dawn to board some inflatable dinghies to England. The police attempted to stop them with batons and tear gas; human rights groups and politicians were outraged.

Manon Aubrey and others from the far-left La France Insoumise subsequently visited Calais to show their solidary with the illegal immigrants. ‘Ten days ago, 200 migrants were violently repressed,’ she tweeted. ‘This shows the reality of migration policy’.

The French left describes immigration as ‘an opportunity’ for the Republic; it is a way of building a new country, what Jean-Luc Melenchon, their most influential politician, describes as his ‘New France’. The left’s manifesto makes that clear, and it will have been read and appreciated by the people smugglers in Europe, in Africa and in the Middle East. It is, in effect, an open invitation to come to France and make a new life.

It will also encourage migrants who want to settle in Britain. It is improbable to believe that a left-wing government in Paris, many of whom are radically hostile to the police, would impose any form of border control on migrants wishing to cross the Channel. Why should they when immigration is an ‘opportunity’? Not just in France, but in Britain and every Western country.