UK has paid ‘duplicitous’ France £160m since 2015 to stop migrant boats

Migrants: Boris Johnson speaks after deaths in the Channel

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However, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has only just explained how a fraction of the cash will be spent, Jayne Adye pointed out. Ms Adye, the director of pro-Brexit campaign group Get Britain Out, was speaking in the wake of the latest tragedy in the English Channel, in which 27 migrants on a flimsy dinghy drowned in choppy waters in the worst accident of its kind on record.

She said: “The Government has jumped from crisis to crisis, with no apparent plan or ability to function properly.

“In no area is the Government failure to deliver on promises more evident than the battle we have faced to try to reduce the numbers of migrants making these illegal crossings of the English Channel.”

With another month to go before the end of this year, the number of people who have attempted the dangerous journey stood at at more than 25,000, three times the total for the whole of 2020, Ms Adye stressed.

It is clear President Macron does not want to cooperate over this migrant issue

Jayne Adye

She said: “However, despite this huge rise clearly showing a change in tactics is needed, the Home Office is still throwing money at the French to ask them to resolve the issue, despite no evidence to show they – or any other EU Member State – have any interest in standing up and taking responsibility towards these desperate people moving through their countries.

“It is clear President Macron does not want to cooperate over this migrant issue, even refusing offers made by our Home Secretary, Priti Patel, this week, for the UK Border Force and police to help to try to secure the French coastline, as keeping more migrants inside France would conflict with Macron’s campaign for the French Presidential Election next year.”

Nevertheless it was not simply a French issue, with other EU countries accused by Ms Adye of “digging their heads in the sand and pretending it is everyone else’s problem” with respect to migrants crossing their borders.

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Ms Adye added: “Just a reminder – so far, we have already paid France £160 million towards sorting this out since 2015 – including £56million this year alone.

“Yet despite the massive amount of money already sent, this week the French Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin announced he has only just set out how the French would be spending (only) £9million of this on 20 quad bikes and some new hard-shell boats – and announcing no new personnel would be employed to help sort out the problem.

“Still no news about how the rest will be spent. This is nothing more than daylight robbery and almost as duplicitous as the people-smugglers themselves.”

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“It is about time the Prime Minister took much more serious action to resolve the problems, rather than banging on about Peppa Pig.

“We have seen from the example of Australia, if migrants know they will not be allowed to stay in a country if they arrive illegally, they will not risk their lives to cross the sea.

“The tragedy in the English Channel yesterday should be a clear example of a deterrent.

“But, until these people-smuggling activities are shut down and shown to be fruitless through the proper involvement of the French (and other EU Member States), desperate people will continue to chase an impossible dream and suffer in the process.”

She added: “We are reminded time and time again, how many in this Government and Whitehall are so used to this country being run by the European Union.

“Do our those in the corridors of power not have any ambitions – or sadly perhaps few abilities – to get on and be innovative themselves to gain the maximum benefit of Brexit Britain?”

In a phone call with Mr Johnson on Wednesday night, Mr Macron emphasised the shared responsibility the two governments carried.

Mr Johnson said Britain had had difficulty persuading the French to tackle the problem in the correct way.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex was due to hold a crisis meeting on Thursday morning, as authorities announced that a fifth suspected people smuggler had been arrested in connection with the disaster.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she would be having talks with her French counterpart Mr Darmanin, who said Britain, Belgium and Germany needed to do more to help France tackle the illegal migrants and human trafficking.

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