Britain to give France £500m to solve migrant crisis

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Britain will give France almost half a billion pounds over the next three years to step up efforts to stop small boats from crossing the English Channel.

Rishi Sunak has pledged to send Paris £478m – €541m – to fund the new package.

It will involve hiring hundreds of French law enforcement officers and setting up a new detention center in France.

Mr Sunak announced the package after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron during a UK-France summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Friday.

French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attend a joint press conference during the Franco-British summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, March 10, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool

Leaders spoke of a “special bond” between the UK and France (Image: Reuters)
Emmanuel Macron and Rishi Sunak pose with ministers during a Franco-British summit at the Elysee Palace in Paris (Image: Reuters)

But there was no sign of the repatriation deal with France, which the government wants as Mr Sunak makes “stopping the boats” one of his top priorities.

Mr Sunak was speaking in Paris following the announcement of the law on illegal migration, which has already faced backlash from various charities.

It will discourage those arriving from seeking asylum, applying for citizenship or returning to the UK in the future.

The bill will “push the boundaries of international law,” Interior Secretary Suella Braverman told reporters.

Legislation is likely to get a rough ride in the House of Lords as the Upper Chamber considers whether to change the legislation.

If the government doesn’t accept the changes, a lengthy back-and-forth could delay implementation.

In the House of Commons, Ms Braverman had said: “The need for reform is obvious and urgent.”

She added: “You won’t stop coming here until the world knows that if you enter the UK illegally you will be arrested and quickly deported.”

File photo dated 09/12/2022 of a group of people believed to be migrants are taken to Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the canal. A total of 45,756 migrants crossed the English Channel to Britain in 2022, according to government figures. The last crossing of the year took place on Christmas Day when 90 people arrived in two boats from France. Issue date: Sunday January 1, 2023.

A group of people believed to be migrants are taken to Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the canal (Image: PA).
Huge protests took place in response to the refugee crisis (Image: Tom Maddick / SWNS)

The plans have been criticized by refugee groups, who say they don’t work and will only make the system more expensive and messy.

Patrick Ryan, chief executive of leading modern slavery charity Hestia, said today: “We need to crack down on the organized criminals who exploit vulnerable people, not the victims.”

The UK has already pledged more than £300m to France over the past decade to help fight illegal migration.

More than 3,000 people have already made the dangerous sea voyage this year, and in 2022 almost 46,000 will arrive unofficially.

And that’s despite Mr Sunak and Ms Braverman announcing a £63million package four months ago to increase patrol officers by 40%.

This package followed a £55m deal in 2021.

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Justin Scaccy

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