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Monday, October 18, 2021

Migrant crossings: £54m promised to France to help tackle issue to be sent ‘in the coming weeks’

Money promised to France for immigration controls is expected to be transferred “in the coming weeks”, a Home Office minister has told Sky News.

Speaking to Kay Burley, Damian Hinds said the UK has a “good and constructive relationship” with the French authorities and the £54m pot of cash will be handed over soon.

“The work that they do along that coast is incredibly important and it is life saving to stop people coming across the Channel or attempting to come across in that way,” he said.

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Over 1,000 migrants in two days reach England

“Some of these gangs make a profit on putting people’s lives in danger and they have to be stopped.

“It is heartbreaking to see this and the French authorities’ work is absolutely invaluable in that regard, we do have this arrangement with them as you mentioned with providing some resourcing so they can increase the numbers of people involved in that.

“We are working out the mechanisms for that payment.”

Mr Hinds was speaking after French interior minister Gerald Darmanin told Sky News at the weekend that no money has been forthcoming so far.

“The British government has not paid, for now, what was promised,” he said.

“So, for the moment, there is not a euro that has been paid by the British government following the deal – more or less – that we negotiated with [Home Secretary] Priti Patel.

“The English are people of honour, so I am certain that it is an accounting delay.”

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‘The British government has not paid’ – France

Speaking during a visit to Dunkirk, Mr Darmanin called on Britain to take action to reduce its “attractiveness” for migrants without residency papers, although he did not go into detail about what those steps could be.

He was speaking after Sky News filmed dozens of migrants leaving for the UK as armed police stood by and watched.

More than 18,000 people have reached the UK on small boats this year, according to data compiled by the Press Association.

A total of 624 people reached the UK on Friday – the fourth highest daily number on record during the current crisis.

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Newborn among migrants rescued in Kent

There were further crossings on Saturday, with at least 491 people, including children, crossing the Channel.

Among those rescued by the RNLI after surviving a nine-hour journey was a newborn baby.

A Home Office spokesman said on Sunday: “French and UK officials continue to work together on the final funding arrangements, which form part of the bilateral agreement.

“We maintain regular contact with France on this work at an operational and policy level.

“This year record numbers of people have put their lives in the hands of ruthless people smugglers and risked perilous Channel crossings from French beaches.

“Joint cooperation with the French has led to nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions and prevented more than 13,500 crossings. But with hundreds still risking their lives and making the crossing, all sides must do more.”

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