‘Empty Talk’ — UK Threatens to Withhold Migrant Payoff Money From France, as Another 1,000 Illegals Land

DOVER, ENGLAND - JUNE 09: Border Force officials guide newly arrived migrants to a holding
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of offering more “empty talk” after it was reported that she plans on withholding some of the payoff money to the French if they fail to step up enforcement against illegal boat migration.

Following another chaotic day in the English Channel, with over 785 illegal migrants landing on the beaches of Britain on Monday, Home Secretary Priti Patel met with Conservative MPs, to inform them of her latest in a long line of schemes to stop illegal migration. On Tuesday, the Home Office said that “under 500” illegal migrants arrived in the UK.

In July, the Home Office agreed to send another £54.2 million ($75mn) to France to step up border patrols on the French coast to stem the flow of illegal migration. This is on top of the £28 million sent to France last November.

The Home Secretary has said that she intends on withholding some of the cash from the French if they do not stop seventy-five per cent of attempted crossings of the English Channel.

“We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far and France is going to have to get its act together if it wants to see the cash. It’s payment by results and we’ve not yet seen those results. The money is conditional,” Patel told MPs according to The Times.

Patel is set to meet with her French counterpart, Gérald Darmanin, today (Wednesday) at a G7 meeting in London to discuss the matter. While a final decision has not been made, it has been mooted that she could send some of the £54 million by the end of the month with the rest to be paid if conditions are met.

Since agreeing to the deal in July, at least 5,000 migrants have successfully reached the UK, with French border authorities merely managing to stop less than half that number from making the journey.

The French, for their part, have claimed that they have stopped over fifty per cent of migrants from crossing since January or around 10,000 illegals.

On Tuesday, France’s Interior Ministry released a statement saying that the £54 million sent by the British is a “fair contribution” to help fund border patrols on French beaches, The Telegraph reported.

“The terms of this funding were negotiated in detail with the British side and there was never any question of making payment conditional on quantified targets. Such an approach would reflect a serious loss of confidence in our co-operation,” the statement said.

Upon coming into office, the Home Secretary pledged to make Channel crossings an “infrequent phenomenon”. Yet, Patel has utterly failed in this regard with a record 13,500 arriving since the start of the year, besting last year’s record of 8,410.

Over the past year, the Home Secretary has put forward a swath of proposals to cut illegal immigration, including floating ferry asylum processing centres, a joint plan with the Kingdom of Denmark to process migrants in Africa, and introducing life sentences for people-smugglers.

However, there has been limited appetite within the supposedly Conservative government to take the simple step of unilaterally sending migrants back to France, a safe, rich country in which asylum seekers could seek refuge.

Commenting on the idea of withholding payouts to the French, Migration Watch UK chairman Alp Mehmet said on Tuesday that it was just another example of “empty talk” from the government, saying that he doesn’t expect it to have any impact on the French “at all”.

Mehmet told GB News that until the UK begins turning the boats back to France, the numbers of migrants crossing the English Channel will continue to rise as “it’s easy money and it works”.

“The only effective measure that we can take is for the French to take them back.”

Mr Mehmet and figures such as Brexit leader Nigel Farage have been calling on the government to adopt a similar approach to that taken under Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Operation Sovereign Borders police, which dramatically lowered the number of attempted boat landings by intercepting smuggler boats at sea and either returning them straight to the shores from which they departed or taking them to offshore processing centres.

The French said that the UK should be “cautious” about using such a method to try to stop boat migration, saying that sending boats back to France would “not only be dangerous for men, women and children on board these boats but contrary to international law.”

“It would also introduce a break in the spirit of mutual trust that has so far underpinned our common action.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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