Priti Patel sparks fury with plan to pay French millions in bid to stop migrant crossings

Priti Patel is poised to announce another multimillion-pound deal with France to stop migrants crossing the Channel


Ms Patel appears set to pay France tens of millions for more beach patrols and surveillance equipment.

The move comes despite previous deals failing to yield a significant impact, with senior Tory MPs reportedly urging the Home Secretary to pull back.

The UK has paid the French more than £80million over the past two years, only for their interception rate to fall.

Just 46 percent of all attempted crossings were prevented from reaching UK waters this year. Last year, about 50 percent were stopped.

Ms Patel remained determined to push ahead, though.

Home Secretary Priti Patel
Home Secretary Priti Patel
French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron

She said: "Conservative MPs voted for these measures and are fully aware of the extensive international partnership work with many countries including France to tackle the many causes of illegal migration."

More than 29,000 crossings have been attempted, with 16,192 migrants reaching the UK and about 13,500 intercepted by the French.

On Saturday 460 migrants crossed in 12 boats, taking the total last month to more than 3,500.

Expected to be finalised this month, the deal will be the third Ms Patel has agreed as Home Secretary.

The fee is yet to be confirmed but The Times reports Government sources saying it is likely to be more than previous deals.

Britain gave France £54million in 2021, with Paris promising to double the number of beach patrols.

Ms Patel also agreed to pay for aerial surveillance drones, dog detection teams, thermal imaging technology and radar.

That agreement followed a £28million deal in November 2020.

Ms Patel said: “The rise in dangerous Channel crossings is unacceptable and a feature of the global migration crisis where 100 million people are displaced in the world.

“The UK’s partnership with France in 2022 has resulted in over 13,500 crossing attempts from France being stopped — 60 percent more than this stage last year — and our joint intelligence and security cell has dismantled 21 organised crime groups involved in trafficking small boats and secured over 500 arrests.

“The biggest law enforcement action involving the UK’s National Crime Agency on small boats which took place this summer involved the French government and other European neighbours.

"This joint partnership is just one part of the Government’s wider work on tackling illegal migration.

On Saturday 460 migrants crossed in 12 boats
On Saturday 460 migrants crossed in 12 boats
Cumulative successful arrivals in the UK by people crossing the English Channel in small boats
Cumulative successful arrivals in the UK by people crossing the English Channel in small boats

“The Nationality and Borders Act makes it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally and we have introduced life sentences for those who facilitate illegal entry into the country.

“The act will 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.”

The cash was dubbed a "necessity" by the Home Office and the deal will be "driven by results".

The deal is likely to be one of Ms Patel’s last acts as Home Secretary.

It is expected she will lose her Cabinet role, regardless of whether it is Liz Truss or Rishi Sunak who takes over as Conservative Party leader.