France urged to accept joint police patrols to tackle migrant crisis

The Prime Minister is urging France to agree to joint police patrols along the French Channel coast in the wake of the deaths of 27 people – including five women and a young girl – after a boat carrying migrants to the UK capsized on Wednesday (November 24).

Nov 25, 2021
By Tony Thompson
Migrants crossing the English Channel earlier this year. (Pic: Sky News)

Boris Johnson spoke to his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and renewed a previous offer to send UK police and Border Force officers to mount coordinated patrols with France. Mr Macron has resisted the suggestion before, though, citing concerns about national sovereignty.

The incident is the worst of its kind since the Channel migrant crisis began and immigration compliance minister Tom Pursglove said it showed the two countries needed to deepen their cooperation in dealing with the issue.

“The Prime Minister and President Macron have had exactly that discussion. That is something that I am very keen to see happen,” he told BBC2’s Newsnight.

“It is the case that in the past we have offered to host and to help with joint patrols. I think that could be invaluable in helping to address this issue. I really do hope that the French will reconsider that offer.”

Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat called for greater collaboration with countries across Europe. He tweeted: “The human tragedy in the Channel is a criminal opportunity being exploited by those who care nothing for lives of desperate people.

“We need to work together with partners as far away as Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to end this cruelty.”

The Government said it had agreed to “keep all options on the table” in their efforts to break up the human trafficking gangs responsible for putting desperate people at risk in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

Home Secretary Priti Patel will also speak to her French counterpart about the issue.

Following a meeting of the Cobra emergencies committee, Mr Johnson said it was clear that French operations to stop the migrant boats leaving “haven’t been enough” despite £54 million of UK support, adding that the people traffickers were “literally getting away with murder”.

However, the mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, said that it was the British who were to blame and called on on Mr Johnson to “face up to his responsibilities”.

“The British Government is to blame. I believe that Boris Johnson has, for the past year and a half, cynically chosen to blame France,” she said, according to French media reports.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the loss of 27 lives was an “absolute tragedy” and said the smugglers are “criminals, people who exploit the misery of others and promise them ‘El Dorado in England’.

The French authorities have arrested five suspected people traffickers in connection with the incident while the regional prosecutor has opened an investigation into aggravated manslaughter.

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