Patel agrees £54m deal with France to reduce migrants reaching England

‘The British people have simply had enough of illegal migration and the exploitation of migrants by criminal gangs’

Joe Middleton
Wednesday 21 July 2021 01:15
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<p>Priti Patel has previously said she wants to make the Channel crossing ‘unviable’ for migrants</p>

Priti Patel has previously said she wants to make the Channel crossing ‘unviable’ for migrants

Priti Patel has announced a fresh crackdown on migrants crossing the Channel with a £54m agreement with France to increase patrols to prevent boats reaching the UK.

The home secretary announced the signing of the new UK-France cooperation agreement with French interior minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday evening.

The new accord – which comes into force in the coming days – means that the number of police patrolling French beaches will double for the second time in a year and additional surveillance technology will be deployed on the coast.

It also means that officials will patrol wider areas of coastline across northern France between Boulogne and Dunkirk and further northwest around Dieppe.

The concord between the two countries comes after a spike in migrants crossing the Channel, with 430 landing in the UK on Monday, a new record for a single day.

The annual figure for 2021 has passed at least 8,452 — already ahead of the total for all of 2020 with more than five months left.

Ms Patel has previously vowed to make the route “unviable” under her Nationality and Borders Bill, which will be able to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country”.

The home secretary said: “The British people have simply had enough of illegal migration and the exploitation of migrants by criminal gangs.

“Illegal immigration is driven by serious organised criminals and people smugglers. The public are rightly angry that small boats are arriving on our shores, facilitated by appalling criminal gangs who profit from human misery and put lives at risk.”

As part of the agreement both nations have agreed to a long-term plan for a “smart border” along the coast using new “cutting edge” surveillance technology.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said: “These are yet more empty words from the Conservatives about agreeing a deal with France to address trafficking gangs.

“As long ago as August 2020, ministers promised a new ‘joint operational plan’ with France would be in place ‘in the coming days’. Yet almost a year later they are still making empty promises, letting down victims, and allowing criminals to continue their evil trade.”

The numbers of crossings – which are often undertaken in small boats not suitable for the journey – have shot up in recent years, with last year’s total more than quadrupling the number of arrivals in 2019.

Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

At least 44,230 people have arrived in Europe via land and sea so far this year, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Also, despite the sharp rise in small boats arrivals on the south coast, asylum applications in the UK fell in 2020 to 29,456.

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