The British government said Thursday to offer France joint police patrols on the French coast along the English Channel after the death of 27 migrants in the sinking of their boat. In a telephone interview on Wednesday evening, Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed to “step up their efforts” and “keep all options on the table” to fight against the smuggling gangs organizing the illegal crossings of the Channel, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.
British Immigration Secretary of State Kevin Foster stressed that London was ready to offer France additional “means” beyond its financial aid, such as the helicopter deployed on Wednesday as part of the rescue operation.
Boris Johnson’s proposal
“We are willing to offer support on the ground, we are willing to offer resources, we are willing to offer, literally, people to go there and assist the French authorities,” he told the BBC. It is not in anyone’s best interests that this continue. He indicated that the Minister of the Interior Priti Patel would meet in the morning with her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin.
According to Tom Pursglove, another secretary of state responsible for immigration, Boris Johnson reiterated during the telephone interview a proposal, previously rejected by Paris for reasons of sovereignty, to organize Franco-British patrols on the French coasts in order to prevent migrants from boarding. “I really hope that the French will reconsider this proposal,” he told the BBC on Wednesday evening.
Criticism of the British
This question of crossings, which regularly stirs up tensions between London and Paris, is delicate for the Conservative government of Boris Johnson, which has made the fight against immigration its hobbyhorse in the wake of Brexit.
Following a crisis meeting Wednesday, Boris Johnson had pointed the finger at the French, believing that they had not done “enough” to prevent the crossings, despite aid of more than 60 million euros for strengthen the surveillance of their coastline.
“Is this really the time to point fingers?” “
“What we are proposing is to increase our support but also to work with our partners on the beaches concerned,” he declared. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the deadliest to date involving migrants in the Channel, several British newspapers are pointing in the same direction, the tabloid The Sun publishing in the front page the photo of a French police patrol leaving, without doing anything, according to him, migrants to board an inflatable boat.
But on the BBC, the deputy of Pas-de-Calais Pierre-Henri Dumont (LR, right) described as a “crazy solution” the strengthening of patrols on the beaches, pleading for collaboration between the two governments to find “real solutions ”, such as allowing migrants to apply for asylum even if they are not in the UK.
“Is this really the time to point fingers?” (…) Is this the moment not to fight together against these traffickers? », Reacted the French deputy Bruno Bonnell, of the LREM party of President Macron.
“Out of 30,000 people trying to cross the Channel, 60% were arrested,” he told Sky News, admitting that was insufficient. But “it happens at night on small beaches. The police cannot be everywhere, let’s be realistic ”.