UK-France migrant deal ‘won’t work’

December 15, 2022

The agreement signed between the UK and France aimed at thwarting people smuggling gangs running small boats filled with migrants across the English Channel is insufficient to tackle the scale of the problem, it has been claimed.

More than 40,000 migrants have crossed in overloaded vessels in 2022 alone.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman recently met a French official to promise £8m to beef up patrols and surveillance.

But Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke said: “It doesn’t match the scale or urgency of the small boats crisis, or the increased risk of loss of life. What’s needed is a step change in approach, with joint border patrols and a Channel-wide joint security zone.”

Kevin Mills, a PCS union representative for Border Force staff in Kent, said there seemed to be no plan to reduce the tens of thousands of people arriving on French shores who wished to come to the UK.

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He added: “This deal is not enough and the lack of detail is telling. If you stop thousands today and let most of them go, how many are just going to try again tomorrow? There is no plan as far as I can see.”

Observers of the decades-long problem in Dover have often noted the people-smuggling gangs are always one step ahead of the law-makers and enforcers.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I’m confident that we can get the numbers down. But I also want to be honest with people that it isn’t a single thing that will magically solve this. We can’t do it overnight.”

The deal, now worth £63m, was signed by Mrs Braverman and her French counterpart, Gérald Darmanin.
It pledges better information sharing between the countries and efforts to provide information in France to would-be Channel crossers about other options.

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