Priti vows to ‘stop 100% of migrant crossings’ as she holds crisis talks with France

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"This Government’s priority is keeping the people of this country safe, and we will stop at nothing to remove those with no right legal right to be in the UK" - Home Secretary Priti Patel. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to “stop 100 per cent” of migrant crossings after online crisis talks with her French counterparts last night.

The Home Secretary was due to meet Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin in person today (Tuesday) after a war of words between London and Paris over last week’s record crossings when 1,185 migrants arrived in the UK a single day.

But the Home Secretary cancelled her planned trip to France following a suicide bombing outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday. Instead Ms Patel held crisis talks with the French interior minister last night and issued a joint statement saying they have agreed a new target of stopping “100 per cent of Channel crossings.”

The pair, who have been at loggerheads for some time over the record numbers of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats, have agreed to deploy joint security and police operations to catch people smugglers in northern France.

The statement from the Home Secretary and French Interior Minister Monsieur Darmanin said:

‘Tonight, the Home Secretary spoke to her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin to discuss the problem of small boats crossing the Channel and the operational response to it.

‘Both the Home Secretary and Interior Minister agreed to strengthen operational cooperation further. More must be done to stop the dangerous crossings. They agreed to accelerate the delivery of the commitments made in the joint agreement of July 2021 to deliver on their joint determination to prevent 100 per cent of crossings and make this deadly route unviable.’ 

A statement released by the Home Office said they also discussed the mounting migrant crisis in eastern Europe which Britain has accused Belarus and Russia of engineering to undermine European unity.

The UK’s terror threat level has been raised to ‘severe’ following an emergency COBRA meeting at Downing Street on Monday with Police and security services advising the Prime Minister that another attack on British soil is now ‘highly likely.’  

At a Covid press briefing yesterday, the Prime Minister urged the country to be ‘vigilant’ and called Sunday’s blast a “stark reminder” of the risks of terrorism.  

Liverpool suicide bomber, Enzo Almeni, arrived in the UK from Iraq several years ago and converted from Islam to Christianity in 2017 at the cathedral it is believed he wanted to attack on Sunday.  

Douglas Carswell, the British former politician who served as Member of Parliament from 2005 to 2017 and co-founded Vote Leave took to Twitter to say: “The Parson’s Green bomber came from Iraq. The Manchester terrorist came from Libya. The Derby terrorist from Sudan. Can we at least have an honest conversation about the threat of terror?”

The UK has accused Paris of failing to do enough to stop the crossings and threatened to withhold a £54 million payment agreed earlier this year. However, France has insisted that the money would allow them to step up coastal patrols and intercept crossings. 

There have also been allegations of French inaction as part of a ‘Brexit punishment strategy’ amid ongoing rows over fishing rights and border rules in Northern Ireland. There are also several reports of French boats helping migrants into fishing waters.

Downing Street said it is ‘wrong to conflate’ the issue of migrant crossings with other issues like Brexit and added: ‘This is about criminal gangs endangering lives.’   

The escalating row came after shocking photos revealed the squalor of Dunkirk’s ‘New Jungle’, where hundreds of migrants arrive each day. 

It has been reported thousands of people are living in shabby tents cramped together at the Grande Synthe camp before they cross to Britain.

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