France Blackmails Britain for £30m to Stop Illegal Boat Migrants: Report

Migrants gather at the entrance of the French northern city of Calais, on November 2, 2017, next to a lorry parking lot. In Calais, local associations put the number of migrants sleeping rough around the town at around 600-700 and they have sounded the alarm about "catastrophic" conditions. / AFP …
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images

The French are reportedly demanding £30 million in exchange for allowing the British navy to return illegal boat migrants who departed from France’s shores.

A total of 516 illegal migrants have crossed the English Channel in just three days, with 151 arriving on Saturday, 130 on Friday, and a daily record of 235 on Thursday. The British government has officially requested that the military support UK Border Force, with the Home Office considering an Australia-style “push back” to reject migrant boats at sea.

Sources speaking to The Telegraph on Sunday said that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel are considering deploying the navy to turn back the boats, and well as using drones in deterring illegal landings on England’s cost.

The plan, set to be put to the French government, will mean sending back the illegal aliens immediately to Dunkirk in Northern France, rather than attempting to return them after they have already landed in Britain. Reports claimed that just one in 40 illegal Channel migrants who had arrived on English soil had been successfully returned to France since January 2019.

However, it will come at a price, with the French set to demand £30 million to pay for increased patrols along the French coast. Government sources said ministers are “livid” over the request, with one telling The Times that it was “demanding money with menaces”. Another accused Paris of trying to “milk” London while the number of illegal landings spins out of control.

“Throughout history, French governments have demanded money to end migrant crossings,” a Home Office source told The Telegraph. The British have already paid the French more than £100 million to stop the boats from coming in just the past six years. However, more than 4,000 have arrived already this year — more than double which arrived in the whole of 2019.

The government have not yet agreed to the demands, with The Times reporting a source as saying that Home Secretary Patel will not hand over the cash unless she has a say in how it is spent.

“They want the UK to cough up the cash in return for them making the situation less bad. Priti is refusing to give them that without anything in return. We want a joint operational plan where we can see how the money is spent. The French claim they have to patrol hundreds of miles of coastline, but most migrants leave from just five beaches,” a source revealed.

Ms Patel has appointed a former Royal Marine small boats commander, Dan O’Mahoney, to lead the new mission to stop the migrants. He will coordinate with the French, will lead on intelligence operations to intercept vessels before they leave, and crack people smuggling crime gangs.

The Home Secretary said: “The number of illegal small boat crossings is appalling. Dan’s appointment is vital to cutting this route by bringing together all operational partners in the UK and France.

“This is a complex problem, but across government, we are working to address many of these long-standing issues and make this route unviable by arresting the criminals facilitating these crossings and making sure they’re brought to justice.”

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