Rishi Sunak must ensure France is using British taxpayers’ money properly

Furious MPs are today demanding an investigation into “a grave breach of trust” by French police refusing to stop migrants crossing the Channel.

A CRS officer told the Daily Express “it’s not our job” to prevent small boats leaving despite Britain giving France £480m to stop the dinghies leaving their shores.

And Tory MPs yesterday demanded the Government hold French President Emmanuel Macron to account over the “troubling findings” as voters “will feel betrayed by a policy they have never really agreed with.”

The number of migrants being stopped by the French has fallen to 45.2 per cent, down from 45.8 per cent the year before, prompting anger from MPs. Immigration minister Robert Jenrick even suggested France should copy Belgium and start intercepting boats in the Channel.

Marco Longhi, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “It is deeply concerning to learn about the behaviour of some French police officers funded by the UK, as well as the UK Home Office allowing this to happen.

READ MORE Belgium is effectively stopping migrants and putting Emmanuel Macron to shame

“French Police have a job to do and it is not to support crossings. This misuse of public resources is a grave breach of trust. Policing should prioritise safety and security for all: British citizens and migrants themselves who should not be helped to sea. 

“I’m calling for a thorough investigation and accountability for those involved.

“Such actions undermine the principles of humanitarianism and the responsible allocation of taxpayer money and competence of the Home Office.

“It is essential that authorities on both sides take immediate steps to rectify this situation and ensure that public funds are used responsibly and for the intended purpose.

“The truth must be uncovered, and those responsible held accountable because my Dudley constituents and all taxpayers will feel betrayed by a policy they never really agreed with.”

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke told the Daily Express: “These are very troubling findings.  

“Tens of millions of pounds of British taxpayers’ money is going to the French authorities, there should be an inquiry to ensure it is being properly spent on stopping the boats.

“We’ve seen from Belgium that their aggressive interception of the boats is delivering real results on the ground. It’s time the French did the same.”

The French are coming under increasing pressure to stop more boats after it emerged Belgium is intercepting 90 per cent of crossings.

But the number of small boats from France being stopped has fallen over the past 12 months, despite Britain agreeing to pay Paris £480m in March.

Tim Loughton, speaking in Parliament last week, revealed French police have stopped 45.2 per cent of crossings in the year to August, compared to 45.8 per cent the year before.

Britain is paying France the huge sum of taxpayers’ money to boost patrols on French beaches, as well as extra surveillance drones and beach buggies.

Some 23,000 migrants have crossed the Channel so far this year. In total, 3,002 people have arrived in the first 10 days of September alone, with the hot weather making for ideal crossing conditions.

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On Sunday 153 migrants had to be rescued by French authorities off the coast of Calais.

The French coastguard rescued two dinghies with broken engines and returned them to port.

The first boat was crammed with 81 people – including eight women and 10 children who were returned to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in the early hours of the morning.

Tim Loughton, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said of the Daily Express investigation: “This would go a long way to explaining why the interception rate by the French authorities has actually declined this year despite record amounts of subsidies to the French police from the British taxpayer.

“The French need to travel to Belgium and take a crash course in how you deal with illegal migrants effectively.

“We need to have a proper value for money audit.”

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said last week that crossings from Belgium are “extremely rare” because smugglers know the vessels will be stopped and taken back to shore – unlike in France.

He also told MPs: “With respect to small boats leaving their shores, they’ve been willing to intercept the boats in the water.

“That has proven decisive. And now small boat crossings are extremely rare from Belgium. So that is an approach that we would like to encourage the French to follow.

“French patrol ships effectively escort migrants to British waters because they will not intervene unless the dinghy is in distress and those on board are believed likely to cooperate.

“Paris fears intercepting migrants on the Channel could increase the risk they will capsize by attempting to swerve the French authorities.”

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