English Channel crisis: Boris’ 5-point plan to stop boats leaving France

Dr Shola criticises Boris Johnson over Channel crossings response

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English Channel crisis talks have broken down before they began in the wake of a strong letter from the UK Prime Minister. He called for five separate plans of attack in response to the situation. The French Interior criticised Boris Johnson’s public letter outlining the potential solutions to the migrant crisis, calling it “unacceptable and counter to our discussions between partners”. As a result, Home Secretary Priti Patel is “no longer invited” to join talks on the subject, he added.

Boris Johnson has offered to work with France to “move faster and faster” to tackle small boat crossings at the English Channel, in a letter sent to Mr Macron.

He made this pledge of support in a bid to avoid a repeat of the “appalling tragedy” which left 27 people dead, including 17 men, five women, one of which was pregnant, two teenage boys, and a girl.

The Prime Minister wrote to Mr Macron outlining five steps he thinks both sides ought to take “as soon as possible”.

The letter came just hours before France cancelled key talks with the UK in protest of Mr Johnson’s suggestions.

What does the five-point plan entail?

The core elements of the plan include:

  • Joint patrols to prevent migrant boats from leaving French beaches
  • Using more advanced technology, such as sensors and radar
  • Carrying out reciprocal maritime patrols in each nation’s territorial waters, and using airborne surveillance
  • “Deepening the work” of the Joint Intelligence cell and working to ensure there is better intelligence sharing to drive more arrests and prosecutions
  • Committing to “immediate work” to devise a bilateral returns agreement between Paris and London, in addition to discussions for a wider UK and EU arrangement.

Mr Johnson stressed an agreement for France to take back migrants is the “single biggest step” which would neuter people’s motivation to come to the UK.

He added this move would have an “immediate and significant impact”.

The PM wrote: “If those who reach this country were swiftly returned the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be significantly reduced.”

He added: “This would be the single biggest step we could take together to reduce the draw to Northern France and break the business model of criminal gangs.

“I am confident that by taking these steps and building on our existing co-operation we can address illegal migration and prevent more families from experiencing the devastating loss we saw yesterday.”

A senior government source told The Telegraph: “A returns agreement would be the single biggest deterrent of these crimes.

“If migrants that cross the Channel illegally are sent back to France, this totally busts the smuggling gangs.”

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France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said France was disappointed by the plan.

The nation cancelled planned talks with Home Secretary Priti Patel after Mr Johnson called on the country to take back migrants.

Mr Darmanin said: “Making it public made it even worse.”

In a statement, the French Interior Minister said: “We consider the British prime minister’s public letter unacceptable and counter to our discussions between partners.”

He added: “As a result, Priti Patel is no longer invited.”

Ms Patel reportedly discussed Mr Johnson’s five-point plan with Mr Darmanin in a call last night.

The decision has been seen as an indication of the poor post-Brexit relations between the countries and the difficulties the nations may face working together to curb the flow of migrants.

There is concern within Whitehall suggesting French officials have not been doing enough to stop boats traversing the Channel and seeking asylum in the UK.

The PM’s plans proposed Border Force officials joining French patrols, potentially as early as Monday.

However, it is now unclear if the French will agree to the suggestion – with some French politicians suggesting the idea could undercut French authority.

Mr Macron spoke about the migrant crisis during a visit to Croatia on Thursday, where he said he would hold the UK to account and highlighted his call for more help in fighting smugglers.

The French leader said: “We are going to ask for extra help from the British because these men and these women don’t want to get asylum in France.”

He added: “Basically we have got to develop [relations] with our partners and hold them to account.

“We’ve got to develop things in a far stronger way, we’ve got to reinforce cooperation – co-operation [with] Belgium, Holland, Germany, but also Britain and the [European] Commission.”

Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and the European Commission are all due to attend Sunday’s summit in Calais.

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