Record migrant numbers cross English Channel in small boats

Elias Hubbard
July 14, 2020

She insisted the United Kingdom "needs results" from French action to curb the crossings and was prepared to send migrants caught making the journey to France.

It was the newly appointed French Interior Minister's first meeting with an global counterpart.

The Franco-British unit will allow services to share intelligence quickly and will consist of six British and six French police officers based in Coquelles outside Calais, Darmanin told reporters.

In a statement following the meeting, Ms Patel said: "I have been in France today seeing first-hand the significant work undertaken on that side of the Channel to address the unacceptably high levels of small boats, alongside the efforts of Border Force and the National Crime Agency in the UK".

'She was also clear that going forward we will be returning these people back to France'.

Ms Patel and Mr Darmanin reaffirmed their commitment to return boats in the Channel to France, rather than allow them to reach the UK.

Darmanin said he had told Patel that more resources were needed to combat the migrant trafficking.

The source added: 'Priti is incredibly unhappy with the number of small boats making this journey'.

While a huge search and rescue operation was launched in the Channel to deal with "a number of incidents" off the United Kingdom coast, the Home Secretary was in Calais for talks with her newly appointed French counterpart. "This simply can not be allowed to go on", she told President Emmanuel Macron's interior minister.

'I have signed an agreement with the French to create a joint intelligence cell which will crack down on the gangs behind this vile people smuggling operation and impressed on my French counterpart the need to stop these illegal crossings for the benefit of both our countries'.

"The way to solve the refugee crisis is to treat people with basic decency and to provide a safe and legal process by which they can apply for asylum at the United Kingdom border in France".

Miss Patel is under intense pressure to get on top of a problem she had previously pledged to have all but eradicated by now.

The previous highest number to get to the United Kingdom in a single day was 166 on 3 June. Calais over the years has unwillingly hosted rudimentary, overcrowded migrant camps that sprung up, slums so poor and violent that one was dubbed "the Jungle".

So far this year 2,660 people have made the crossing to the Kent and Sussex coast from France in small boats.

Sources said many had claimed asylum on arrival, complicating the process of removing them. Crossing attempts have been surging.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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