France claims it did not agree to prevent all migrant boat crossings with Patels £54m

Priti Patel called on to deliver anti-migrant armada

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After a meeting with her counterpart in Paris on Monday, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, Priti Patel released a “joint statement” highlighting France and the UK agreed to continue the work they’ve started after signing a £54m deal in July 2021. The funds, paid by the UK to France, are supposed to strengthen patrolling across the Northern French coastline and halt people from making the perilous journey across the Channel.

On Wednesday, Home Office minister Tom Pursglove declined to tell MPs how much of the £54m has so far been handed over to the French government.

At the end of October, French sources indicated that they had only received about £17m.

The statement from the Home Office read: “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 percent of crossings and make this deadly route unviable.”

Only 48 hours after the meeting, the French embassy in London contested the “joint statement”.

The embassy tweeted: “For the record, the 100 percent figure was not agreed between the Home Secretary and the French Interior Minister @GDarmanin and should not be presented as an agreed commitment.

“It is not.

“And it is not part of the joint statement #ChannelCrossings.”

The target of 100 percent written in black and white in the British statement comes from an interview Mr Darmanin gave to Sky News on October 11, according to the Home Office.

The French minister told the broadcaster: “If I look back over the last three months – because the summer is a period when one can cross the sea more easily because the sea is calmer – we have increased by 15 percent the interceptions of small boots from 50 to 65 percent.

“It’s a good score and I am sure we can reach 100 percent if the UK gives us what they promised.”

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The Home Office recently confirmed that 1,185 people crossed the English Channel by boat to reach the UK on Thursday, November 11, a new record for migrant crossings in a single day.

More than 23,000 people have made the crossing from France to the UK by boat so far this year, a sharp rise on the 8,404 in 2020 – and far more than in years before the pandemic, when most asylum seekers arrived by plane, ferry or train.

The previous record was 853 people crossing on November 3.

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