Migrant crisis: Home Office 'gives up hope' of striking deal before Emmanuel Macron's re-election contest

Priti Patel is calling for 'a fairer system deterring illegal entry across the channel by cracking down on people smugglers.'

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Home Office officials have "all but given up" on accomplishing a new deal with France to handle the issue of migrant crossings across the Channel before the French presidential election in April, it is claimed.

People attempting to cross the English Channel in small boats in 2021 saw a new record high, with more than 29,000 people having been intercepted according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, Tom Pursglove, said people should not be trying to cross the Channel, and instead should be claiming asylum in the first safe country they reach.

He said the Government was reforming its approach to people crossing the Channel through the Nationality and Borders Bill.

The proposals are expected to be presented to France after the French presidential election.

A Home Office official who attended talks in Paris said: "Macron's officials just sat there saying 'non, non, non,' to all our proposals" in a statement to The Times.

"They didn't have to say it but they were basically saying there's no chance of a breakthrough before the election."

Emmanuel Macron has been unable to offer any significant concessions on the issue.

Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, Tom Pursglove, said: “The public have been crying out for reform for two decades and that’s what this Government is delivering through our new plan for immigration,” he said.

“The Nationality and Borders Bill will make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally, and introduce life sentences for those who facilitate illegal entry into the country.

“It will also strengthen the powers of Border Force to stop and redirect vessels, while introducing new powers to remove asylum seekers to have their claims processed outside the UK.”