UK and France set to strike historic deal on small boat crisis
The UK and France are set to strike a historic deal to tackle the small boat crisis as pressure mounts on Britain’s immigration system, with Channel crossings exceeding 40,000 until present this year.
The countries are expected to sign an agreement on Monday to stop people making the perilous journey to the UK.
Reports suggest this will mean an increase in Britain’s annual payments to France from several million pounds to a figure of between £60m and £70m.
This will help boost beach patrols, along with new technology to detect boats before they launch, according to The Times, while British officials are expected to be stationed in French control rooms for the first time.
It comes after Rishi Sunak expressed “renewed confidence and optimism” on the issue at the Cop27 summit in Egypt, as he pledged to “seize this challenge of illegal migration” by working with European nations .
The Prime Minister and French President Emmanuel Macron embraced at the United Nations climate change conference last week in their first face-to-face meeting since Mr Sunak entered No 10.
The Financial Times quoted French officials as saying the number of officers on patrol would rise from 200 to 300 by mid-2023, up from 90 in 2018, with the cost falling on Britain.
More than 40,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year, government data shows, with 972 people detected in 22 boats on Saturday. In 2021, there were 28,561 registered.
Saturday’s arrivals were the first since October 31, when 46 people were detected in a boat.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick outlined several actions the UK plans to take at home to tackle the small craft crisis in a Sunday Telegraph article, warning that the idea of ’Hotel Britain’ should be removed to discourage “buying asylum”.
Migrants should be housed in “simple and functional” spaces as opposed to “luxury” rooms, he said, claiming the country’s “generosity” towards refugees is “abused” by people “jumping the waiting line”.
The Home Secretary also warned that modern UK slavery laws must not lead to exploitation by illegitimate claimants.
He also said the government intended to ‘clear the backlog of asylum applications’ by ‘simplifying bureaucracy’ and rolling out a pilot project in Leeds which ‘doubled’ the productivity of civil servants.