FRANCE should ban non-EU immigration for up to FIVE YEARS while the bloc’s passport-less travel zone is overhauled, Michel Barnier has said.
His jaw-dropping plan comes after he spent years railing against the UK for wanting to take back control of our own borders.
The former Brexit negotiator turned right-wing presidential hopeful said all non-Europeans, including Brits, must be shut out.
In a bombshell TV interview he cited “links” between immigration and terrorism and called the EU’s external frontiers a “sieve”.
Mr Barnier insisted the radical move is needed until countries like Greece and Italy can put in place “stricter” checks.
The 70-year-old, who wants to run against Emmanuel Macron next year, said voters are “angry” about the numbers of new arrivals.
He added: “The problems with immigration are not modest. Effectively we need to take some time over three to five years and suspend immigration.”
Under his crackpot plan only students and refugees from outside Europe would be allowed into France during that period.
The veteran ex minister said the time should be spent thrashing out reform of the passport-free Schengen zone.
He warned changes to both the French constitution and EU rules would be needed to toughen up migration controls.
His plan would likely be heavily opposed by other European countries.
The remarks sparked astonishment in Westminster, with MPs insisting the UK is going the other way and becoming more open to the world post-Brexit.
Top Tory Michael Fabricant told The Sun: “What a contrast between the liberal attitudes of the UK, which will introduce quotas recognising the value of immigration, while France threatens to close its borders partly due to their abject failure to integrate their immigrant population.”
Experts were also flabbergasted by the outburst.
John Springford, from the London-based think tank the Centre for European Reform, said it was “absurd and would be incredibly damaging”.
In a separate interview Mr Barnier backed bringing in a ban on wearing the burka in public spaces.
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He is hoping to gain the nomination for France’s main centre-right party, The Republicans, ahead of next April’s election.
The contest is expected to be a straight battle between Mr Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen.
Polls show the pair are neck and neck in the first round of voting, with the current president set to win a head-to-head runoff.