More Handouts to France: UK Agrees to Pay Additional £55M to Stop Migrants

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) meets with French army chief of staff General Francois Lecointre (L), French President's personal Chief of Military Staff, Admiral Bernard Rogel (R) and other military officials before the official launch of the new French nuclear submarine "Suffren" built by Naval Group at the French naval …
LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images

The British taxpayer will send an additional £55 million to the French in order to supposedly crackdown on illegal boat migrants setting sail to the UK from the beaches of France.

Home Secretary Priti Patel reached an agreement with her French counterpart Gérald Darmanin on Tuesday to pay £55m to step up French border patrols. This comes on top of the £28 million that the UK sent to France last year to clamp down on the migrant trafficking routes. In total, the UK has sent some £192 million to France to stop illegal immigration since 2014.

At the time of the last payout, the Home Office boasted that it would “double number of police on beaches”,  increase port security and invest in “cutting-edge” surveillance tech. However, despite this, the migrant crisis has continued unabated and has actually increased.

Yet again, the massive payout to the French has failed to come along with an agreement on the return of illegal migrants who reach British waters, many of whom are in fact escorted by the French Navy.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said that the additional funds will “help to stem the flow of people seeking to make that very dangerous crossing”.

Atkins claimed that the previous £28m deal was successful, telling the BBC: “We know that the agreement that was reached in November has seen some 7,500 people prevented from crossing the Channel.”

“So, in doubling the number of police officers patrolling the French coast, as well as further investment in surveillance technology and other measures, we do believe this will help to stem the flow of people seeking to make that very dangerous crossing.”

The deal was reached as a daily record of 430 illegal migrants landed on British soil on Monday and another 287 on Tuesday, taking the total for the year to at least 8,452, surpassing the total for the entire year of 2020, according to PA Media.

The new funding will reportedly pay for French border authorities to patrol a wider range of the coast between Boulogne and Dunkirk, as well as patrols around Dieppe. The money will also fund an increase in surveillance technology to detect illegal attempts to cross the Channel.

The new agreement, which will come into effect in the coming days, is reminiscent of the billions paid by the European Union to the Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey to keep the flow of migrants at bay from the Middle East.

Speaking from a boat in the English Channel on Wednesday morning, Brexit leader Nigel Farage criticised the deal as it said nothing of the “outrage” of the French Navy escorting migrants into British waters, a practice he uncovered last year.

“Frankly, I’ve always taken the view that there are many in France, within the authorities, who think ‘if they all go to England, it’s a problem off our hands’. That’s why the French refuse to sign a deal with us on returns”

Mr Farage repeated his assertion that the “only way” to solve the migrant crisis will be to follow the lead of Australia and “take these illegal vessels under tow and take them back to France”.

“If we make it clear that nobody who enters the UK illegally by this means will ever be granted refugee status we can bring this to an end, but that will take courage, that will take political will and I’m not sure this government has got the backbone to do it,” Farage said.

The Labour Party’s Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said that the deal announced from the Home Office merely represents “more empty words from the Conservatives about agreeing a deal with France to address trafficking gangs”.

The Labour MP noted that the government had promised to enact a plan with France in August of last year, “yet almost a year later they are still making empty promises, letting down victims, and allowing criminals to continue their evil trade”.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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