Channel crossings: Recent tensions between Britain and France as minister admits only five migrants have returned to Europe this year | Political news

Efforts by Britain and France to prevent illegal crossings of the English Channel have suffered from new tensions – the same day it was revealed that only five migrants have returned to Europe this year after traveling to Britain by ship.

Home Secretary Priti Patel met with her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin this week following her recent arrival in the UK via the English Channel boat routes. reached a one-day record.

At the end of Monday’s meeting, the Interior Ministry issued a joint statement by Patel and Darmanin.

Immigrants - handling a large inflatable boat off the coast of northern France to reach the seafront to cross the canal.  - Reproduction from Adam Parsons and Sophie Garratt
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More than 23,000 people have arrived in the UK in small boats this year

It said the couple had “agreed to speed up the fulfillment of the commitments made in July so that they would” realize their common determination to block the crossings 100% and make this deadly route unusable “.

But the French embassy in the UK has now questioned the statement and posted on its Twitter account on Wednesday that Patel and Darmanin did not agree on a “100 per cent figure” and that “it should not be an agreed commitment: it is not”.

“And it’s not part of a joint statement,” the tweet added.

Following the embassy’s intervention, sources in the Home Office referred to Darmanin’s comments at a press conference last month in which the French Home Secretary said the UK and France “should be able to achieve 100% [of interceptions] if we use resources and if our British friends continue to help us as they do now. “

More on migratory intersections

Tensions between French officials and the Home Office arose after British Government Secretary Tom Pursglove told MPs that only five migrants who crossed the English Channel by ship had been returned to European countries this year.

A total of more than 23,000 people have arrived in the UK in small boats this year, up from 8,500 in 2020, Pusglove told the House of Commons House on Wednesday.

Labor MP Yvette Cooper, chairman of the committee, sued the minister that Britain’s ability to return migrants to the EU had “poorly” deteriorated following the expiration of an asylum agreement with the group after Brexit.

He said the agreement “will provide an opportunity to return several hundred people a year to EU member states”.

According to the Home Office, between January 2019 and March 2020, when EU asylum rules still applied to the UK, more than 155 people who entered the UK illegally in small boats were returned to Europe.

“You understand that there have been difficulties in securing returns, not least as a result of COVID, which is an important thing that I think we need to keep in mind,” Pursglove told the committee.

“The aim remains to ensure successful return arrangements with our European friends and neighbors, and possibly with the EU.”

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Pursglove, a minister in both the Home Office and the Justice Department, acknowledged that the arrival of small boats was “becoming the chosen route to facilitate evil criminal groups.”

“Smugglers are getting bolder, we’re seeing riskier behavior,” he said.

“We see bigger boats in use. We see a wider range of intersections coming from the wider shoreline.”

And he acknowledged that “a fivefold increase in illegal entry this summer compared to 2018 is completely unacceptable.”

“We need to do better here,” Mr Pursglove added. “And I’m not resting until we get to a much better place in this matter.”

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