Migrant crisis latest: Do not exploit tragedy ‘for political ends’, Emmanuel Macron warns Boris Johnson
- Exclusive: France backtracks on claims it may have caught smugglers
- How can Boris Johnson solve the Channel migrant crisis?
- Asylum claims in UK soar to highest level in nearly 20 years
- French politicians ignore customary respect for dead to play blame game
- Q&A: Why do migrants risk their lives in Channel over staying in France?
President Emmanuel Macron has warned Boris Johnson not to “exploit a tragic situation for political ends” as the two leaders clashed over the migrant tragedy while calling for more joint action. In telephone talks, the pair agreed on the “urgency of stepping up joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings” and that “it is vital to keep all options on the table” to break the business model of the smuggling gangs, according to Downing Street. But criticism came fast with Boris Johnson the first to strike following the sinking of a dinghy off the port of Calais yesterday that left at least 27 dead.
“We’ve had difficulties persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves,” Mr Johnson told reporters. The Elysee wasted no time responding, with the presidential palace saying that Mr Macron had Mr Johnson during a phone call on Wednesday evening “to refrain from exploiting a tragic situation for political ends”. It came after Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, said the “attractiveness” of the British job market was one of the reasons that people keep trying to cross, while Priti Patel, Britain’s Home Secretary, admitted there was “no quick fix” to the crisis.
“Yesterday was the moment many of us had feared for many years. The criminals who facilitate these journeys are motivated by self-interest and profit, not compassion,” she said. Follow the latest updates below.
Macron vows to hold the UK to account
Speaking during a visit to Croatia today, Emmanuel Macron said that he would hold the UK to account and renewed his call for additional aid in catching the smugglers, Henry Samuel reports.
He said: “We are going to ask for extra help from the British because all these men and these women don’t want asylum in France. We tell them they’re obviously able to do so, and there are centres in Calais and Dunkirk where they can go, but we’re going to reinforce in fact saving them at sea. “But 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 co-operation — co-operation [with] Belgium, Holland, Germany, but also Britain and the [European] Commission.” “We want to better integrate also the British to prevent these flows by dismantling the [smuggling] networks. We’ve being doing that in the last few weeks.”
‘The only way for these guys is England because it’s a dream’
Franck Dhersin, the vice-president for transport in the Hauts-de-France region, has said Channel crossings are “so much more dangerous” than previous illegal ferry or truck routes.
“We need to sort the border in Europe… it’s very important to talk with Libya, Syria, Turkey because we need to stop the migrants at this point,” he told Sky News. “When they are in Europe, it’s too late. “When they are in Europe they want to go to Calais because the only way for these guys is to go to England because it’s a dream. They have family in England, and when I ask migrants do you want to stay in France, they say the paradise is in England.”
Net migration fell sharply in 2020, new analysis finds
Net migration to the UK fell sharply in 2020, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show, with an estimated 34,000 more people arriving in the country than those who left.
This represents a fall of 88 per cent on 2019’s figure, which saw net migration reach 271,000. Jay Lindop, director of the ONS centre for international migration, said there was “no evidence of an exodus” from the UK and that Covid restrictions severely limited the number of people who moved country.
2020 was “highly unusual… for global migration, in that historical trends and typical behaviour patterns were significantly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and associated restrictions,” she said.
146,000 EU nationals are estimated to have left the UK in 2020, while 52,000 arrived.
‘Pull factors’ that draw in illegal migrants must be addressed, says Priti Patel
“Pull factors” that draw illegal migrants to the UK must be addressed if the current crisis is to end, Priti Patel has urged. It comes after Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, said the “attractiveness” of the British job market was one of the reasons that people keep trying to cross.
“This is about addressing long-term pull factors, smashing the criminal gangs that treat human beings as cargo, and supply chains,” Ms Patel told the Commons. “Yesterday was the moment many of us had feared for many years. The criminals who facilitate these journeys are motivated by self-interest and profit, not compassion.
“I hope the whole House can come together to send a clear message that crossing the Channel in this lethal way, in a small boat, is not the way to come to our country. It is of course illegal, unnecessary and desperately safe.”
Priti Patel ‘not achieving anything’ on migration despite tough talk, says Sir Keir Starmer
Priti Patel is “actually not achieving anything” despite her tough rhetoric around migration, Sir Keir Starmer has said. The Labour leader told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast that he was “sick of the Home Secretary playing to the headlines with grand statements about what she’s going to do.”
Sir Keir said: “We need to be working with the French in the camps, working upstream on law enforcement because in the camps, among the problems, is the pull, the power of the people smugglers is far greater than those of the authorities because we are not doing enough work to break that link “If the people smugglers say, ‘It is your turn, you’re on the boat this morning, here it is’, then desperate people who have got as far as the northern coast of France are more likely to do what the smugglers are telling them to do than the authorities giving them the support that they need.”
Exclusive: France backtracks over claims it may have caught smugglers behind migrant tragedy
France today backtracked on claims to have arrested smugglers behind the migrant tragedy that saw at least 27 drown. Seventeen men, seven women and three minors died when the inflatable boat lost air and took on water off the northern port of Calais on Wednesday, according to public prosecutors in Lille.
A manslaughter probe has been opened. Under pressure to show he was on top of the situation, French interior minister Gerald Darmanin announced last night that four suspected traffickers accused of being directly linked to the doomed crossing had been arrested.
A group of more than 40 people after getting on an inflatable dinghy to leave France for England Credit:Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters
Only this morning, he said that a fifth man suspected of buying inflatable boats for the crossing had been detained. However, the Lille prosecutor’s office has all but ruled out any link between those arrested and the dead migrants.
In a message seen by The Telegraph, it said that there was “no objective link” with its investigation into people trafficking by a criminal gang and manslaughter related to the deaths. Henry Samuel has this report
More families land in Dover this morning after crossing Channel overnight
Dozens more desperate families attempted to cross the Channel to Britain today despite the disaster which claimed 27 lives, Patrick Sawer and Gareth Davies report. An RNLI lifeboat and Border Force vessel BF Valiant intercepted two flimsy boats attempting to make the crossing just hours after a similar vessel sank seven miles off the coast of France.
The latest group of around 25 people was picked up and brought into Dover Marina at around 5am, with pictures showing several men and women being brought ashore after the perilous crossing. It is understood there were as many as four search and rescue incidents in the Channel during the early hours of this morning. An ambulance was also seen waiting at the dockside alongside coastguard vehicles to treat anyone suffering from hypothermia and shock.
But the French coast guard has said the narrow window of weather safe enough to attempt the perilous journey is rapidly closing, as wind speeds pick up across the Channel. : Group of asylum seekers helped ashore in Dover
Analysis: How can Boris Johnson solve the Channel crisis?
Ministers and MPs have stressed there is “no silver bullet” to solving the Channel crisis (see 2.14pm), but the deaths of at least 27 people have provided a deadly impetus to Anglo-French efforts to find a solution, writes Charles Hymas. Britain has been pushing for British Border Force and police officers to join French beach patrols, but until now this has been resisted by France partly due to concerns that it threatens their sovereignty.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, also confirmed in the Commons this week that she has been having talks with her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, about joint Anglo-French sea patrols that could intercept migrants and return them to France. It was not surprising therefore that in his first public statement on the tragedy, the Prime Minister urged the French to consider British boots on French ground as part of the solution. Here are the Prime Minister’s possible routes to a solution
There is no single silver bullet, says Duncan Baker
Duncan Baker says it is “absolutely clear that there is no single silver bullet” to fix the current problem.
“There are three huge areas to cover,” he tells the House. “International cooperation has to be there to work with other countries, the domestic legislation has got to be there, which is what we are doing through the Nationality and Borders Bill to fix our broken asylum system.
A group of people thought to be asylum seekers were brought into Dover by the RNLI this morningCredit:Gareth Fuller/PA
“And lastly we need the toughest possible measures to crack down on the surveillance and the criminality of those gangs who are quite frankly just aiding and abetting the situation every day.” As the debate following her statement comes to a close, Priti Patel reiterates her commitment to “tackle the issues and the gangs at source, going upstream, using intelligence, fixing the system here in the United Kingdom and of course our continued work with our counterparts around the world.”
Priti Patel: We must deploy every tool in the box
Robert Jenrick, the former housing secretary, claims it is within the gift of President Macron “to bring this to an end now”. “The more people who cross the Channel, the more people will come to France,” he says.
The Home Secretary replies that the UK has been “absolutely assiduous ” in making these points to its French counterparts during the last two years. “You’ve heard the offers we’ve put forward to President Macron, the interior minister… We absolutely encourage them and urge them to take these offers forward.
They may not be perfect, but that’s not the point. “We need to deploy every single tool that we have to save lives and that’s what this is about.”
Vulnerable people paying the price, says Labour MP
Labour MP Chi Onwurah disputes Priti Patel’s claim that Channel crossings are not “necessary”, as those who continue to make the journeys are not deterred by the dangers that they bring. She says vulnerable people are “paying the price” and accuses Ms Patel of having “failed to put in place” the necessary policies.
“That is exactly what the Nationality and Borders Bill does,” Ms Patel responds in reference to Ms Onwurah’s request for a fairer system.
Human trafficking is ‘the modern-day slave trade’, says Priti Patel
Andrew Mitchell likens human traffickers to “the slave traders of yore”, seeking reassurance that the intelligence and security services must be brought together to address the challenge in question. Mr Mitchell calls for processing to take place outside of the UK, so that “those who have a successful claim, which are the significant majority of those arriving by boat, come here in a legal and humane way once asylum has been granted, rather than risking their lives just for a chance to file paperwork.” The Home Secretary describes trafficking as the “modern-day slave trade, there is no doubt about that”.
“In terms of processing outside of the United Kingdom, this is very much part of the process that we are looking at now in terms of safe and legal works, but also creating the right parameters and working with many of the humanitarian and aid agencies my right honourable friend will be familiar with.” Brendan O’Hara, the SNP human rights spokesman, says he was “appalled” by the use of “migrants” in television news coverage, and asked whether Ms Patel would join him in asking some media outlets to “reflect on their use of language”. Priti Patel says that even during the Afghanistan crisis “a lot of language was used that was frankly inappropriate… so yes, I will.”
Third country arrangements are common sense, says Sir John Hayes
Sir John Hayes calls on Priti Patel to go further in the Nationality and Borders Bill.
His ‘Common Sense Group’ of MPs has written to her about the prospect of extra measures such as offshoring and the use of third countries to confront smuggling. “If you can’t protect the integrity of the borders, what can you control?” Sir John asks, referring back to the “take back control” slogan that featured in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Ms Patel points out that offshoring and third country arrangements are covered by the draft text of the Bill, and that these would be considered.
“With the state of crisis we’re seeing with global migration issues right now, and the appalling loss of life and deaths we have seen, it’s incumbent on everyone to come together to stop this awful trade in human trafficking.”
Labour MP: This cannot be exploited by anti-immigration sentiment
Florence Eshalomi, the Labour MP for Vauxhall, says: “We cannot allow this situation to be exploited by those with an anti-immigration agenda.” “I welcome her comment in looking at safe routes, but will she please maybe look at another option in providing a humanitarian visa scheme so people don’t have to get on these boats to get safety and refuge for their families?” Ms Patel says that while there are lots of options that can be looked at, “we need the legal framework to do some of this”.
Government will ‘strain every sinew’ in partnership with France
David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, praises Priti Patel for having “strained every sinew” since she took office in the hope of avoiding the scenes witnessed yesterday.
He asks what she is doing to crack down on human trafficking gangs who take advantage of the vulnerable, and what has been offered to France. “We have put forward a very, very significant technology offer. We have to find joint solutions and if it means doing more with France, we will strain every sinew to do so.”
Priti Patel: Asylum system must become ‘fit for purpose’
Iain Duncan Smith seeks assurance from Priti Patel that she is pressuring the French government to allow British personnel to work in the area.
Ms Patel says it is an offer that she has made “repeatedly” to France and “yet again” in the last hour, but insists it can only happen with French cooperation. On asylum, she adds that the system “must become fit for purpose, so it meets the needs of the people claiming asylum, that we have a differentiated approach to stop economic migrants masquerading as asylum seekers and elbowing women and children out of the way – which is effectively what is happening right now. “[On] safe and legal routes, absolutely.
The very purpose of safe and legal routes is to create the right kinds of resettlement paths for people fleeing persecution and repression. That will create a legal path to make their claim from outside of the United Kingdom, so they won’t have to come here, and when they do come here they are literally supported in the right way.” She accuses the SNP of having “failed to support asylum seekers”, highlighting that 31 out of 32 local authorities do not take part in the voluntary dispersal scheme for housing asylum seekers.
Home Secretary: Resettlement is a ‘fundamental pillar’ of Government work
Priti Patel is keen to put on the record that migration problems “go beyond England or France” and currently affect Italy, Greece, Poland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
On resettlement, Ms Patel says it is a “fundamental pillar of the work of this Government”. She emphasises the Government’s commitment to resettle the people it has committed to do so, including Afghans and the 15,000 people rescued under Operation Pitting. “We can only resettle once we have the ability and the infrastructure to create resettlement pathways so we don’t just bring people here and let them live an inadequate life.”
She says an offer has been repeatedly placed on the table to France about a returns agreement and particularly measures to look at family reunions and children. “We have to have viable agreements, and they have to reflect the type of crisis we face with migration and the type of circumstances we are now confronted with.”
Priti Patel: Our own rules can stop data and intelligence sharing
Yesterday’s tragedy must be a moment for change, says Nick Thomas-Symonds, “a time for real action to save lives”. Priti Patel echoes Mr Thomas-Symonds’ comments praising Britain’s operational patrols, and said Border Force and law enforcement work in conjunction with their French counterparts every day “in some of the most appalling conditions”.
She attacks the “weaponisation” of women, children and even babies who are being threatened and attacked by people smugglers.
Priti Patel is addressing the House of Commons about the current crisisCredit:Handout/PRU/AFP via Getty Images
“This is absolutely not new – humanitarian crises, climate crises, they all force displacement. And we have seen many movements of people since 2013, 2014 and 2015. This has all culminated now in much vaster movements.
“Surveillance capability is stood up every day, dependent for example every day on weather, whether planes and drones can fly, and on Monday I spoke about how drones are now being used in France, whereas previously they were not being used in France. “It is absolutely right that we continue not only to cooperate, but also intensify our work, share data, share intelligence and our own rules prevent some of that from happening.”
Labour calls for reopening of Dubs scheme
Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Labour shadow home secretary, pays tribute to those who have lost their lives and all involved in the rescue operation. Mr Thomas-Symonds asks Priti Patel what she will do to deepen intelligence-sharing beyond coastal patrols.
“It is also about disrupting the routes facilitated, often across hundreds and thousands of miles, by vile people smugglers,” he says. He also calls for the reopening of the Dubs scheme, which was designed to ensure that the Government continued to accept unaccompanied child refugees after Britain left the EU.
Solution to migrant crisis ‘impossible’ without cooperation, says Priti Patel
Priti Patel insists the Government will not wait until the Nationality and Borders Bill passes (see 1.15pm). “The Government, the police and the National Crime Agency are taking actions at every level to take down the people-smuggling gangs.
But once again, however, we cannot do it alone. More than 20,000 have been stopped this year, Ms Patel notes, adding that the UK has dismantled 17 organised criminal groups and secured over 400 arrests. “This crisis continues, demonstrating we need to do more together.
This is a complicated issue and there is no quick fix. It does mean a Herculean effort and it will be impossible without close cooperation between all international partners and agencies.” Ms Patel urges Labour MPs to reconsider their opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill – touting it as a “long-term solution to a long-term problem successive governments have faced over decades”.
“I hope the whole House can come together to send a clear message that crossing the Channel in this lethal way, in a small boat, is not the way to come to our country. It is of course illegal, unnecessary and desperately safe.”
‘The moment many of us feared for many years’
“People should come here legally and the system should be fair, but the main issue is this – crossing the Channel in small boats is extremely dangerous,” Ms Patel says. “Yesterday was the moment many of us had feared for many years.
The criminals who facilitate these journeys are motivated by self-interest and profit, not compassion. They threaten, intimidate, bully and assault the people who get into these boats, and they have an absolute disregard for human rights. “They use the money they make for other heinous crimes and we simply have to break their business model and of course bring them to justice.
The Government’s new plan for immigration, which will be put into law through the Nationality and Borders Bill, is a longer-term solution that will address many of these underlying factors to deterring illegal migration and addressing underlying pull factors.” Ms Patel notes asylum claims will be able to be processed outside of the UK under the proposed new laws. She says “nobody needs to flee France in order to be safe”.
Yesterday’s events a shock but ‘not a surprise’, says Priti Patel
Priti Patel describes all journeys across the Channel as “absolutely unnecessary.”
“As I have been warning for two years, they are also lethally dangerous,” she says. “What happened yesterday was a dreadful shock. It was not a surprise but it is also a reminder of how vulnerable people are put at peril when in the hands of criminal gangs. “There is also no quick fix.
This is about addressing long-term pull factors, smashing the criminal gangs that treat human beings as cargo, and supply chains.” Only a coordinated international effort will ensure a resolution to the crisis against the backdrop of 80 million displaced people worldwide, the Home Secretary says. “We’ve also seen it play out on several land borders in Europe and across the Mediterranean Sea, and given the chance, the traffickers will always find people to exploit and manipulate.
This does mean tackling issues upstream and not waiting until people reach EU countries.”
Priti Patel: Government will do ‘whatever it takes’
Priti Patel says that information is still being gathered about the situation in France, and notes that Boris Johnson has spoken to President Macron. “I am glad that President Macron indicated his determination to stop the vile people-smuggling gangs, and importantly to work closely with all partners across Europe,” she told MPs. “I have literally just spoken with my French counterpart and once again reached and out made my offer very clear to France in terms of joint UK-France cooperation, joint patrols to prevent these journeys from taking place.”
Ms Patel adds that she has vowed to do “whatever is necessary to secure the area” so migrants do not risk their lives in unseaworthy boats.
Sir Keir Starmer voices frustration over late arrests
Sir Keir Starmer has voiced his frustration that arrests have only been made after the deaths of 27 people yesterday. “I’m frustrated. As a former prosecutor I’ll take a lot of convincing that those events couldn’t have been made last week or the week before, so there’s a lot of serious questions to ask.
“We’ve got to improve our law enforcement here because the people smugglers, the traffickers, have got a real hold on these desperate people. We need to break that.” Sir Keir added that the law enforcement had been “slow” and called for a joint effort in the camps on the north-east of France because of the “far greater pull” that traffickers currently have over authorities.
“We need to break the link, work upstream but joint work with the French. No more headline-grabbing statements – effective action.”
Coming up this afternoon
Priti Patel will make a statement to MPs in the House of Commons shortly on a day that has already seen shock at yesterday’s tragic events give way to a blame game between officials and ministers. The French interior minister said that illegal migrants are crossing the Channel in droves because they know they can find work on the black market in Britain,
It comes after Boris Johnson insisted President Macron’s government needed to “step up” its efforts to stem the flow of illegal migrants across the Channel.
‘Let’s have all ideas back on the table’, says former diplomat
Good cooperation between Britain and France is “the only solution” to the current crisis, Lord Ricketts. The former UK Ambassador to France observed illegal crossings had been going on for 20 years, initially by ferry and Eurotunnel. “Ideas that were not possible before this tragedy ought to be looked at again in the hope of being able to step up the cooperation,” he told Sky News.
“Wider cooperation… is important too because by the time that the traffickers and the very vulnerable people get to the beaches, it’s really too late to do anything. “Redoubling cooperation – maybe joint patrolling by British and French police officers, with the British there in an observer capacity, that might be useful. It will show everyone how difficult it is to maintain patrolling across 250 kilometres of coastline.
But let’s have all ideas back on the table. “For the political leaders it’s vital that we don’t indulge in blame games or finger-pointing, we need to get on with quiet, serious cooperation.”
Lobby latest: GBP54 million going to France used to ‘intercept’ migrant boats
The GBP54 million that the Government is paying France to assist with the migrant crisis is being paid in instalments to “intercept” migrant boats trying to reach the UK, Downing Street has said. “We’ve provided the GBP54 million so they can put in more resources, both on the beaches but beyond that as well to intercept those asylum seekers that are making the crossing and to clampdown on the criminal gangs,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
“We continue to offer more resources and personnel to the French in terms of things like joint controls, which continues to be an open offer and we know that discussions are ongoing on that. “And we recognise that on our side we need to take longer term action which is why we have our (Nationality and Borders) Bill to break the model.”
More needs to be done by UK and France alike, says Number 10
The UK and France “absolutely need” to step up their work to dismantle trafficking, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman has told reporters. “It demonstrates that it is still ongoing despite the horrific tragedy we saw yesterday, and more needs to be done,” he said.
“That’s why the Prime Minister spoke to President Macron yesterday, it is why the Home Secretary is speaking to her counterpart today.”
Red Cross calls for ‘fair asylum system’
The chief of the British Red Cross has asked the Government to create safe and legal migration routes and the capacity for family reunions. Mike Adamson also called for planned resettlement schemes in an interview with BBC News. “We need a fair asylum system here so people can claim asylum here and be fairly assessed,” he said.
France ‘retaliating’ after Johnson’s more positive language is unhelpful, says Lord Blunkett
France “retaliating” amid a growing diplomatic blame game is unhelpful, a former Home Secretary has said.
Lord Blunkett, the Labour peer, reflected on a “very upsetting tragedy” and called for France to take into consideration that it was in its own interests to stop the flow of illegal migrants and traffickers. “There’s been a massive drop in those coming over in trains, in trucks and on ships. We do have to deal with it but we have to get it in context…
Our security services really do need to get a grip down the line,” he told All Out Politics. While he thought that the language was beginning “to change overnight” from Boris Johnson, Lord Blunkett said it did not help if France was “retaliating in a harsher way – we do need an agreement with them”.
President Macron: We’ve got to improve European cooperation
France must strengthen cooperation with its European partners to curb illegal immigration, Emmanuel Macron has said in a speech in Zagreb.
Firstly I would like to say how sad the whole nation feels. These men and these women ran away from their country and they wanted to get to the British coast.
They ran away from their country because they were undergoing misery, political oppression, and I think that’s what’s functioning in fact on a European ground. I’d also like to say very clearly that our law and order forces are mobilised day and night. Not yesterday or the day before…
France has never had as many police officers and as many military who are mobilised to try to fight against illegal immigration. And we carry on doing so, and our mobilisation is total as far as our coasts are concerned. Yesterday of a thousand departures or attempts to depart, two-thirds were avoided.
We’re going to maintain this maximum presence, we’re also going to continue using drones, we’re going to mobilise reserves and ask for extra help for the British because obviously all these men and women don’t want to stay in France. Basically we’ve got to develop things in a far stronger way, reinforce cooperation with Belgium, Holland, Germany but also Britain and the Commission. We want to better integrate the British to prevent these flows by dismantling the networks…
We really must ensure a stronger European cooperation. I’ve always said so, France is a transit country and we fight against these networks of criminals who use distress, but we’ve got to improve European cooperation.
Shadow Commons leader: This is ‘the most poignant of wake-up calls’ for Government
Thangam Debbonaire, the shadow leader of the House of Commons, said recent events “remind us of the risk to life in these perilous waters”. “My thoughts and I’m sure those of all members are with those who died and their loved ones,” she told the Commons.
Ms Debbonaire added that for MPs wondering if the victims included relatives of their constituents who were trying to be reunited with them, it was “quite hard to take”.
The remains of a damaged inflatable boat and a sleeping bag left by migrants on the beach near Wilmereux, FranceCredit:Mohammed Badra/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
“This is the most poignant of wake-up calls for the UK Government and I really urge them to act, to take the matter seriously, to prevent people dying in these dangerous waters. “Safe and legal routes, tackling the traffickers, reversing the cut on overseas aid, working constructively with our overseas partners. These are four things the Government could and should be doing today.”
‘Progress has been made’ on stopping crossings, insists minister
“Progress has been made” in preventing Channel crossings, a minister has told the Commons despite the deadliest day of the migrant crisis to date.
“Firstly, I and I’m sure all members across the House join the Prime Minister in saying how deeply saddened we all are by the terrible tragedy that we saw yesterday,” Steve Barclay, the Cabinet Office minister, told MPs. “In response to the challenge of small boats it is a whole-of-government endeavour and it is right therefore that we work across the whole of government to look at all aspects of that journey – both upstream, our processing, our legal framework – and approach that across government. “He will be aware that progress has been made – 20,000 crossings have been stopped so far this year – but we will continue to work with the French in partnership to ensure that we can avert tragedies as we saw yesterday.”
Philip Holloborne, the Tory MP for Kettering, had asked Mr Barclay to ensure “constructive solutions” in Whitehall, as opposed to “reasons why something can’t be done”.
Stop the blame game and cooperate on migrants, urges former ambassador
The blame game unfolding between Britain and France must be avoided in light of this tragedy to focus on solutions, a former ambassador has said. “When I was an Ambassador we managed to find an agreement with the tunnel and the harbour, and we closed the camps also at [Britain’s] request,” Sylvie Bermann, the former French ambassador to the UK, told Sky News’s Adam Boulton. “That’s the reason people are now desperate to go to the UK using small boats at risk to their lives, because they are sure to find a job there and they have relatives there or at least communities.
So it’s very difficult and the only way is to cooperate. “It’s easier for them to find jobs because a lot of Europeans left after Brexit… It’s still very attractive for those migrants, and of course as I said they have communities there.”
France has already doubled its patrols and border police but “this is not enough”, Ms Bermann added, reiterating the need for further collaboration with Belgium and Germany.
Why do migrants risk their lives in the English channel over staying in France?
The tragic drowning of 27 people on their way to Britain is thought to be the biggest loss of life in such circumstances for several decades.
25,700 people, more than three times the numbers who made the crossing last year, have attempted to reach Britain by sea, according to the Press Association.
A Border Force vessel brings in migrants found off the coast of Dover in August last yearCredit:Andy Rain/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Most of the boats leave the Northern coast of France. This is often the culmination of a long and dangerous journey in the hands of criminal people smugglers. So what drives these desperate people to try and get to Britain from France, despite it and other EU nations providing a safe place to claim asylum?
This cannot go on, says Archbishop of Canterbury
Lord Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has issued the following statement on social media:
This was a devastating loss of human life – each person a child of God. Praying for all those suffering agonising grief today. We need a better system based on safety, compassion, justice and cooperation across frontiers.
This cannot go on.
Lord Welby has previously said world leaders must “craft very carefully the way that safe and legal routes are crafted” in order to “avoid pulling those who feel they can come” while curbing the work of human traffickers. In 2016, he also condemned “pandering” to fears about migration and refugees, which he said were “quite easily dispelled”.
‘No link established’ between suspected smugglers and drowned migrants
The Lille prosecutor’s office said that “no link has been established” between the suspected smugglers arrested overnight and the drowned migrants, Henry Samuel reports from Paris. It comes after a total of four arrests were made last night, with a fifth arrest this morning.
UK asylum claims reach 17-year high
Asylum claims made in the UK have reached a 17-year high, new figures reveal after a total of 37,562 applications were made in the year to September.
This is more than in any 12-month period since the year to June 2004, when 39,746 applications were lodged, according to Home Office data. It is also higher than the numbers seen at peak of the European refugee crisis in 2015 and 2016 (36,546). The figure marks an 18 per cent year-on-year increase in light of the restrictions on movement that were in place across 2020.
At the end of September, 67,547 asylum applications were still awaiting a decision – a rise of more than two-fifths (41 per cent) and the highest level since records began in 2010.
Home Secretary to address MPs later today
Priti Patel will address the House of Commons at around 1pm today to address MPs. It comes after she described yesterday’s events as “the starkest possible reminder” of the dangers of illegal Channel crossings.
The Home Secretary will address the Commons this afternoonCredit:Aaron Chown/PA Wire
“My thoughts are with the families of all of those who have tragically lost their lives in French waters today,” the Home Secretary wrote on social media. “It is why this Government’s New Plan for Immigration will overhaul our broken asylum system and address many of the long-standing pull factors encouraging migrants to make the perilous journey from France to the United Kingdom.
“We will continue to intensify all cooperation with France and other European partners to prevent migrants embarking on these deadly journeys.”
The remains of the boat
This is thought to be what remains of the vessel which capsized in the Channel yesterday, resulting in 27 deaths.
How CO2 monitors and crackdown on migrant lorry stowaways drove migrants to the sea
More migrants have been forced to make the perilous journey across the Channel in makeshift boats because of technological advances in detection measures being fitted in lorries. More than 20,000 asylum-seekers are believed to have crossed from France to the Kent coast this year alone, as aid workers warn a lack of safe routes into the UK has driven up the number of people opting for the dangerous route. Sophisticated CO2 monitors have helped lorry drivers crackdown on migrant stowaways, essentially closing the preferred route for people trying to reach Britain through the EuroTunnel hidden in shipments.
‘These people are absolutely desperate’
Far more safe routes to countries such as the UK need to be established if further tragedies are to be prevented, the head of office for the International Organisation for Migration has said. “These people are absolutely desperate,” Tauhid Pasha said in an interview with Sky News. “When they got onto that boat yesterday in the dark, in the cold, they must have been really desperate to undertake that journey.
Migrants including children were helped ashore by the RNLI yesterdayCredit:Ben Stansall/AFP
“So bearing that in mind we need to open up much more safer options or people are still going to cross. The more we erect barriers and borders, we’re going to be driving them into the hands of smugglers and traffickers through alternative, more dangerous routes.”
Safe routes are the “only answer” in the face of 80 million displaced people and 26 million refugees globally, Mr Pasha said, as “very few make it to Europe”.
France is not patrolling its borders, says former Border Force chief
France is allowing unseaworthy vessels to sail across the Channel and is not patrolling its borders, the former director-general of the UK Border Force has said. According to Tony Smith’s comments in an interview with Sky this morning, the events of yesterday were “a tragedy waiting to happen” as he hoped both the British and French governments would now do more to tackle the underlying issues. “Of course now the recriminations will start and I think there are a number of solutions that could be agreed between ourselves and the French government, but they are at a political level.
“The Border Force are doing all they can and our mission is to save lives. If we see anyone in our territorial waters they will be brought ashore, they will be made well and they will be welcomed and made safe, at least until such a time as a decision is made on their entitlement to enter the country – that’s not the case on the French side.” He acknowledged the UK presents a “very attractive proposition” because migrants were having “a bit of a miserable time” elsewhere in Europe.
“I’m afraid it’s going to get significantly worse,” he said. “There is huge pressure to migrate from a great number of countries, and we are seeing problems on the Poland-Belarus border… There’s a very fragile agreement between the EU and the UK and the Americans are seeing record numbers now on their southern border with Mexico.”
Migrants land in Dover this morning after crossing Channel overnight
A group of migrants have landed in Dover this morning, just hours after the deadliest Channel crossing killed 27 people, reports Gareth Davies. Pictures show the RNLI helping men, women and children ashore in Kent.
A group of migrants were brought in to Dover, Kent, by the RNLI this morningCredit:Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Despite the appalling conditions on the English Channel, British officials intercepted two small boats with around 40 people on board.
They were brought into the harbour at Dover, Kent by lifeboat around 5am in cold, wet and windy conditions.
‘Bad immigration management’: French interior minister fires broadsides at Britain
Gerald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, has fired a number of broadsides at Britain during the morning broadcast rounds. Speaking to RTL Radio, Mr Darmanin maintained that Boris Johnson’s administration – as well as Belgium and Germany – must do more to help President Macron’s government fight traffickers on an international level. “It’s an international problem… There is bad immigration management (in Britain),” he said.
Gerald Darmanin accused Britain of “bad immigration management”Credit:Francois Lo Presti/AFP
In separate comments to CNews TV, Mr Darmanin added: “If the British overhauled their (labour) legislation, they started doing it but haven’t gone far enough, there would be no people in Calais and Dunkerque.
“Why do they go to Britain? Because the British labour market functions, in many ways, with an army of reserves, as Karl Marx would say, of irregular workers.”
Joint UK-France returns agreement would end ‘evil’ Channel trafficking, says immigration minister
A joint returns agreement between the UK and France would help to put an end to “evil” people trafficking in the Channel, the immigration minister has said. Kevin Foster said Britain can do more to secure its borders and combat criminal gangs after 27 people died during a crossing attempt yesterday.
“We’re keen to offer resources on top of money, and of course to look whether we can get a returns agreement as well which would ultimately smash the model of the people trafficking gangs,” he told BBC Breakfast.
Mr Foster said France had already stopped 20,000 migrants from reaching the UK this year, but the Government will offer further resources and support as both parties want to “go further”. ” We are looking to change the law to deal with some aspects of the asylum system and also we’re working to see how we can open up economic migration routes for those stuck in conflict,” he added.
Accept not just British but European border help, Dover MP tells France
France “has to accept help” from Britain and the rest of the EU, Natalie Elphicke told Sky News. “There is a lot of work from the Government with the French government, but the key thing that was turned down is people on the beaches.
That has to change.” Although Ms Elphicke’s “compassionate” constituents in Dover wanted to ensure people were looked after where they needed help, they did not want anyone making a “dangerous journey” to Britain. “Clearly more needs to be done.
The Prime Minister and the French President have been talking overnight and I very much hope we’ll see something coming from that about fresh action on the French beaches.”
Rear Admiral: Pass emergency laws and push border forward
Rear Admiral Chris Parry, the former chair of the UK Government Marine Management Organisation, said the UK is “between a rock and a hard place” because international law determines border policy. “From a British point of view we need to push the border much further forward and say when legally used to come from France to Britain by Eurostar, you used to show your passport on the French side,” he said. “If people want to cross the Channel legally, you’ve got to show your credentials on the French side.
Don’t get in the water, it is dangerous and sooner or later it will catch up with you.” The Rear Admiral denied the need for military support and emphasised the risks of making the journey for those who are unfamiliar with the sea, while echoing calls by John Vine (see 8.32am) for greater use of technology and intelligence. Greater consideration should also to be given to “who comes into this country and who does not”, he said, insisting on a separation between asylum seekers and economic migrants.
Government has ‘closed its mind’ on asylum seekers, says human rights director
Bella Sankey, the director of human rights organisation Detention Action, accused the Government of having “closed its mind” to allowing asylum applications.
“We operate a border in France that we signed a bilateral treaty about, and that treaty specifically prohibits people from claiming asylum if they reach the UK border,” she told Sky News. “That’s why we see this bottleneck, the desperation and the tragic scenes we saw yesterday. It’s because of that anomaly really that you see the situation unfolding in northern France.”
The migrant crisis has become more visible because of the absence of safe routes, the director of Detention Action has claimedCredit:Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Ms Sankey suggested measures that have been mooted in the last 12 hours would only serve to worsen the current crisis.
“Everyone in the UK is fed up with seeing dangerous boat crossings… I don’t think there’s anyone who thinks this can continue, it’s very internationally embarrassing. But asylum arrivals have not increased in the last year [and] people increasingly use small boats rather than other means.”
Breaking: Fifth smuggler arrested in relation to Channel deaths
A fifth smuggler has been arrested in relation to the deaths of 27 people while trying to cross the Channel, Gerald Darmanin, the French interior minister, has said.
Mr Darmanin claimed in a radio interview this morning that migrants are “often attracted” by the British labour market, which allows them to be exploited by smugglers. “There were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat, and for a few thousand euros they promise them Eldorado in England,” he said of traffickers. “France must stop being the only one to fight against smugglers.”
Borders chief: More intelligence needed so this doesn’t happen again
Intelligence-gathering must be taken to prevent the further loss of life in the Channel, the borders chief demanded as he lamented yesterday’s “entirely predictable” tragedy.
John Vine, the independent chief inspector of the UK Borders Agency, noted it was not the only time people had lost their lives during crossing attempts. “You can patrol as long as you like, with as many people as you like, but you need the intelligence to know what’s likely to be done in order to be effective,” Mr Vine told Sky News. “We don’t actually know what all this money has actually brought us.
French police looking over the coast at Wimereux, a stretch of land believed to be used for Channel crossingsCredit:Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
“The most immediate thing that would make a difference is if there was a bilateral agreement with the French to return migrants immediately back to France, but I think that’s highly unlikely to be agreed.” Asked about whether the UK adopt measures similar to the European Union’s Dublin Agreement, which in principle allowed the UK to return migrants to the EU country they came from, Mr Vine suggested policy mattered less than enforcement and compliance.
Channel measures have not gone far enough, says Labour
Measures taken by the UK and France to date have not gone far enough, the shadow culture secretary has said.
Jo Stevens questioned whether the GBP200 million spent on arrangements in the Channel had been effective, calling on the Government to reopen the Dubs scheme to enable safe and legal passage for unaccompanied children. “This really must be a wake-up call for the international community to get together, for Britain and France to get together to sit down and hammer out an agreement about how we can stop the trafficking and how we can prevent any further deaths,” she said. The fact that the problem is “growing not reducing” should lead to a renewed focus on keeping vulnerable safe while clamping down on human trafficking, Ms Stevens told Sky News.
“This is a serious issue that requires serious leadership from Boris Johnson and Priti Patel to resolve it, and that hasn’t happened so far.”
‘Yesterday’s tragedy cannot be repeated’
Border patrols should be stepped up immediately and more must be done on the shores of France, the MP for Dover has urged in the wake of yesterday’s Channel tragedy. “Yesterday’s tragedy cannot be repeated and we need to have urgent and swift action to make sure these boats are not entering the water,” Natalie Elphicke, the coastal town’s Conservative MP, told the BBC. “I would like to see patrols stepped up on the beaches, making sure that the boats don’t get in the water in the first place.
That’s the best way to keep people safe, by keeping them on the shores of France where they are already safe.”
The last three years have seen a significant rise in the number of attempted Channel crossingsCredit:Ben Stansall/AFP
Ms Elphicke described footage that emerged yesterday of French police standing by as a boat took to the water as “unacceptable”. She warned people not to make the “incredibly dangerous” crossing from Calais to Dover, warning that further tragedies could follow if more attempts were made.
Boris Johnson has demanded that French authorities “step up” efforts to stop migrants illegally crossing the Channel after 27 people died during a crossing attempt yesterday. Here is the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph.
?The front page of tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph:
’31 migrants die in Channel disaster’#TomorrowsPapersToday
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) November 24, 2021
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