Priti Patel denies ‘throwing good money after bad’ by giving France £54m to stop migrant crossings

home Secretary Priti Patel has rejected claims that £54m to France The idea was to “throw good money after bad” to reduce the number of migrant boats arriving in Britain.

Ms Patel has announced the signing of a new agreement with French Interior Minister Gerald Darmainin, which will double the number of police patrolling French beaches and additional surveillance technology.

Defending the plan to lawmakers on Wednesday, the Home Secretary said French authorities had increased the number of small boats that have been intercepted. English Channel this year.

Asked Ms Patel whether additional funding for France was “throwing good money after bad”, Tory MP Tim Lawton said: “To the French to continue doing whatever they are doing badly Paying more money will not solve the problem.”

Ms Patel suggested the funding would boost the effectiveness of the French effort. “France is blocking more boats than they did this time – but that’s because the numbers are so high,” he told the home affairs committee.

Under the new agreement, French officials will patrol wide areas of the coastline between Boulogne and Dunkirk, and patrols will be expanded to the northwest around Dieppe.

Mr Patel said there was now a “wide spread” of launches along “the entire French coastline”, rather than most migrants wanting to reach Britain coming from Calais.

number of successful people Overseas Crossing There has been an increase from France to the UK in recent years. The 2021 figure has dropped to at least 8,452 – surpassing the total for all of 2020.

Border Force Director General Paul Lincoln told the committee that the number of French interceptions of small boats had risen from more than 2,100 by June last year to more than 6,000 for the same period this year.

Tory lawmakers have called on the government to push the French government to stop so many boats from leaving – as well as stopping the ships earlier in their journey and bringing them back to France.

Mr Lawton asked the Home Secretary whether French officials knew they were allowed under international maritime law to intercept the boats and return them to France.

“They absolutely believe that, they would argue that they are doing their job,” Ms Patel said – but she acknowledged that they don’t always interpret sea rules to “push boats back”.

Some French patrol boats are monitoring migrant boats to ensure they are safe until they cross into British waters. Ms Patel said: “She has a different interpretation of saving lives at sea.”

Mr Laughton accused the Home Secretary of “cheating with excuses” by the French and allowed French officials to “make fun of” the arrangement.

“Yesterday we had a French military naval vessel carrying a boat into British territorial waters – and then tried to hand over the occupants to a boat full of journalists,” he said.

Preeti Patel appeared in the Home Affairs Committee

(Parliament TV)

Ms Patel also defended her plan to seek bilateral agreements that would see asylum seekers who reach the UK via unauthorized routes, quickly return to their country of origin.

“We are in active discussions with EU member states on the bilateral arrangement – I have spent a lot of time there” [talking to] Netherlands, Belgium, Germany. Last night I was also talking to my French counterpart.”

However, EU countries have expressed great reluctance about the idea of ​​any bilateral agreement with the UK to facilitate the deportation of refugees.

in April, independent The report said that France, Belgium and Germany do not intend to make deals with Britain upon return.

Belgium’s Secretary of Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi, then said: “The UK chose to leave the EU and therefore cannot continue to rely on our European solidarity. We cannot be expected to agree only on the return of these migrants “

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