Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak discuss Channel migrant crossings on first telephone conference

Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak are set to meet next year   (Getty / Reuters)
Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak are set to meet next year (Getty / Reuters)

Rishi Sunak has strengthened ties with French president Emmanuel Macron, discussing migration across the Channel in their first telephone conference.

The new prime minister will meet his opposite number next year in person, Number 10 has said, following on from their conversation on Friday.

Over the phone, the two leaders also discussed Ukraine, the climate crisis, defence strategy and the economy.

A Downing Street spokesman added: “President Macron congratulated him on his appointment, and the prime minister stressed the importance he places on the UK’s relationship with France – our neighbour and ally.”

Then prime minister Liz Truss holds a meeting with Emmanuel Macron, at the United Nations headquarters in New York (PA Wire)
Then prime minister Liz Truss holds a meeting with Emmanuel Macron, at the United Nations headquarters in New York (PA Wire)

The pally tone marks a shift from the frostiness that Liz Truss reserved for the French president, saying in August “the jury is out” on whether he is a friend or a foe.

The pair later met at a conference in early October in New York. Mr Sunak is the fourth British prime minister Mr Macron has liaised with since he took office in May 2017.

The Number 10 spokesman continued: “The leaders agreed that there are a huge range of areas where UK-France cooperation is vital.

“As people across Europe face a difficult winter, with rising energy costs resulting from Putin’s invasion, the leaders resolved to work together to secure a more stable energy future. This includes increasing cooperation on nuclear energy.”

On the Channel, Mr Sunak is said to have “stressed the importance” to make the route “completely unviable” for traffickers, while the pair “committed their partnership” to deterring journeys across the treacherous passage.

The statement added: “The prime minister also noted the strong historic and cultural links between our countries, as exemplified by president Macron’s moving words following the death of her majesty the Queen.”

A UK-France summit is set to be held in 2023 at a yet to be confirmed date.