Boris and Macron agree to intensify cooperation on small boats crossing the Channel

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The Prime Minister spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron this morning, to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest.

They reaffirmed the importance of the UK-France relationship and agreed to continue working closely together around the world on our shared agenda, through NATO and bilaterally.

The leaders noted in particular the strategic significance of our long-standing cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and in Africa, including through the joint mission in Mali.

On the subject of small boat crossings in the Channel, the Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s position that we need to break the business model of people smugglers who put lives at risk.

They agreed to intensify cooperation on this matter and agreed to keep talking on other issues, such as fisheries licences and the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The Prime Minister last month slammed illegal immigration in Parliament in response to a call from Tory MP Peter Bone to get tough on bogus asylum claims.

Mr Johnson stressed the Government is bringing forward new legislation that would mean people who attempt to enter the UK illegally will be penalised compared to those who enter through the official channels.

The Prime Minister told Parliament:

“WE HAVE BROUGHT FORWARD THE SOVEREIGN BORDERS BILL.

“WHICH OF COURSE WILL NO LONGER MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR THE LAW TO TREAT SOMEONE WHO HAS COME HERE ILLEGALLY, IN THE SAME WAY, HAS SOMEONE WHO HAS COME HERE LEGALLY.

“I THINK IT IS HIGH TIME THAT DISTINCTION WAS MADE.

“PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THERE IS A PRICE TO PAY IF THEY COME TO THIS COUNTRY IN AN ILLEGAL FASHION.”

Last year, more than 8,500 people entered the UK illegally in small vessels crossing the English Channel: 87% of them were men and 74% were aged 18 to 39. The number this year now stands at over 20,000.

The Prime Minister has also warned migrants trying to cross the Channel in boats that Britain will send them back to Europe.

The Prime Minister said:

“WE WILL SEND YOU BACK.

“THE UK SHOULD NOT BE REGARDED AS A PLACE WHERE YOU CAN AUTOMATICALLY COME TO BREAK THE LAW BY SEEKING TO ARRIVE ILLEGALLY.

“IF YOU COME ILLEGALLY YOU ARE AN ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT AND I’M AFRAID THE LAW WILL TREAT YOU AS SUCH.”

However, it is unclear how many will be sent back until The Nationality and Borders Bill comes into full effect.

The Government say the Nationality and Borders Bill is the cornerstone of their New Plan for Immigration, delivering the most comprehensive reform in decades to fix the broken asylum system.

The bill – and the wider plan – has 3 key objectives:

  1. To make the system fairer and more effective so that we can better protect and support those in genuine need of asylum.
  2. To deter illegal entry into the UK breaking the business model of criminal trafficking networks and saving lives.
  3. To remove from the UK those with no right to be here.

The introduction of the bill was preceded by a consultation, which the government has carefully considered. The government will publish its response in due course. For more information click here.

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