France lashes out over Priti Patel’s threat to rip up £54million Channel migrant deal

Nigel Farage discusses migrants crossing the English Channel

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Ahead of talks between Home Secretary Priti Patel and her French counterpart, Paris warned it would equate to a “serious loss of trust” if the UK tabled fresh demands. Ms Patel has privately told Conservative MPs that she would pull out of the deal unless France stops three in four migrant crossings by the end of this month. The French interior ministry said: “Conditions of the funding were negotiated in detail with the British and it was never a question of conditioning the money to specific targets of interceptions.”

As part of the agreement, ministers pledged to hand over £54million to France to support its efforts in stopping small boat crossings.

But this has not helped curb the number of migrants making the often dangerous crossing across the English Channel.

Nearly 14,000 migrants have been detained by Border Force officers so far this year.

This figure has already dwarfed the 8,420 who crossed last year, then a record number.

UK officials privately complain the French authorities have done little to stop the crossings.

A British fisherman who works in the English Channel has claimed that French officials are “escorting” boats of migrants towards the UK.

Home Secretary Ms Patel has threatened to withdraw the funding as a result of the anger.

Ms Patel told MPs: “We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far and France is going to have to get its act together if it wants to see the cash.

“It’s payment by results and we’ve not seen those results. The money is conditional.”

It is understood that none of the money has yet been paid to France.

The French have taken minor steps, like banning the sale of inflatable dinghies and kayaks in Channel towns in a bid to deter people smugglers.

However, the traffickers are reported to be ordering the small boats online instead.

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Home Office sources have told the Times that 3,500 migrants have reached Britain after the deal was struck on July 21 to double French patrols in the Channel.

It was claimed that less than half that figure had been blocked from crossing by the French authorities.

Ms Patel will confront French counterpart Gerald Darmanin over the issue at a G7 meeting she is hosting in London today.

She is yet to decide whether to withdraw funding, but the pair’s discussions will be crucial for the deal’s future.

A Government source said the French should be stopping at least 75 percent of crossings.

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“The interception rate has to get to a certain point to act as a deterrent,” the insider said.

A French MP has warned “nothing can stop” migrants from travelling between France and Britain.

Pierre-Henri Dumont, who represents the Calais area in the French National Assembly, said: “The fact is, we’ve got 300 to 400 kilometres of shore to monitor every day and every night and it’s quite impossible to have police officers every 100 metres because of the length of the shore.”

The politician suggested that migrants would rather not stay in France and were more likely to speak English and believe it is easier to find work in Britain despite their illegal status.

He added: “We have more and more patrols. The money that was promised to be given by the UK Government to France is set to maintain this number of patrols that we already doubled a few weeks ago.”

Fishermen Matt Coker claimed French patrol boats had appeared to be aiding migrants in making illegal crossings, rather than stopping them.

It has been a particularly busy period for migrant crossings because of the good weather and calm waters.

Mr Coker told the BBC: “I’m not sure… the French are stoping them, as they seem to be sort of bringing them across.”

The trawlerman said people traffickers have upped their game in recent years to become more sophisticated.

“It’s changed really compared to what it used to be three or four years ago when it all started,” he said.

“They used to come across in small two-metre to four-metre inflatables with maybe 10 or a dozen people on board.

“Whereas now they’re using large inflatables which carry 40, 50 sometimes 60 people.”

A baby and several young children were among migrants brought ashore by Border Force crews yesterday.

A packed lifeboat was seen arriving on a beach in Dungeness, Kent.

Three white coaches were parked nearby to take migrants to the reception centre in Dover.

Dan O’Mahoney, the UK’s clandestine channel threat commander, said: “This unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and a surge in illegal migration across Europe.

“We’re determined to target the criminals at every level, so far, we have secured nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions and prevented more than 10,000 migrant attempts.

“But there is more to do. The government’s new plan for immigration is the only credible way to fix the broken asylum system, breaking the business model of criminal gangs and welcoming people through safe and legal routes.”

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