France 'haven't seen penny of £54m promised to tackle crossings'

France claim they haven’t seen a penny of the £54million Priti Patel promised them to tackle migrants crossings as more than 40 including a 16-day-old baby girl from Iraq are helped ashore by RNLI lifeboat in Kent

  • French Interior Minister claimed none of the £54m the UK promised to tackle migrant crossings has been paid
  • Gerald Darmanin risked reigniting war of words with Britain following a visit to the port of Dunkirk yesterday
  • Home Secretary Priti Patel had promised Paris millions to curb Channel crossings – but threatened to withhold
  • It comes as dozens of people were seen being brought ashore in Dover by Border Force after making voyage  
  • Among those who survived the perilous crossing were a woman ushering a small child from Iraq 

France has risked reigniting a war of words with Britain after its Interior Minister claimed that none of the £54million that Home Secretary Priti Patel had promised Paris to tackle the surge of migrants crossing the Channel in recent months has been paid yet. 

Gerald Darmanin claimed that ‘not one euro has been paid’ to France following a visit to Dunkirk yesterday as he warned that ‘migratory pressure is returning after Covid’ and insisted that his government has increased efforts recently to curb it amid mounting criticism.

The UK Government pledged to give France £54million to support its efforts to stop small boat crossings in the second agreement of its kind this year as data compiled by PA Media revealed more than 17,000 people have crossed the Channel in 2021 so far. 

However, Miss Patel said she would withhold the money unless Paris stopped more boats sailing across the Channel. Responding to her remarks, Mr Darmanin thundered that France would not accept ‘any practice contrary to maritime law, nor any financial blackmail’.  

Speaking to the Associated Press last night, the French Interior Minister claimed: ‘For now, not one euro has been paid. We are asking the British to keep their promises of financing because we are holding the border for them.’

He also called on Britain to take measures to reduce its ‘attractiveness’ for migrants without residency papers, without elaborating. Mr Darmanin said: ‘We are speaking of human beings. There are children, babies who are taking these boats, who are risking their lives. There are people who die in the Channel. I don’t want them to be hostage to political debates.’ 

It comes as dozens of people were seen being brought ashore in Dover by Border Force yesterday after making the perilous Channel crossing. The arrivals included a woman ushering a small child from Iraq ahead who were guided up a gangway by a border official – while French police were accused of watching scores of migrants leave Calais ‘unchallenged’. 

A Home Office spokeswoman told MailOnline this morning that ‘with hundreds still risking their lives and making the crossing, all sides must do more’, adding that cooperation with Paris ‘has led to nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions and prevented more than 13,500 crossings’. The department has yet to provide numbers on arrivals for Friday or Saturday. 


France has reignited a bruising war of words after Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin (left) claimed that none of the £54million that Home Secretary Priti Patel (right) had promised them to tackle the surge of migrants crossing the Channel has been paid yet

An RNLI lifeboat carries migrants ashore at Dungeness in Kent on October 9, 2021

A 16-day-old girl from Iraq is pictured on the shores of Dungeness, Kent after being rescued by Border Force

Armed French police officers (left) watch on from 100 yards away as scores of migrants (right) begin their perilous journey across the English Channel in Calais, France

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin listens to explanations during a visit on the theme of border controls and fight against illegal immigration on October 9, 2021

The Albanian government has denied that it is in talks with Britain to detain illegal migrants crossing the Channel in small boats while UK authorities handle their asylum requests.

The Albanian Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman branded reports in the Sun that London and Tirana are in talks to establish a new processing centre in the Balkan nation ‘absolutely untrue’.

The newspaper had quoted an unnamed insider in the talks saying that Home Secretary Priti Patel ‘has made it clear she wants this to happen’ and ‘we are down to the fine details’.

But spokesman Endri Fuga rubbished suggestions that Albania would host migrants on behalf of any third country and urged ‘richer and bigger countries’ to take in their share of migrants. 

Albania’s denial is likely to raise questions about who briefed the Sun on the supposed plans. Miss Patel had been under pressure to clamp-down on illegal Channel crossings from France after the number of migrants detained by Border Force hit record highs this year.  

A Government spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We are determined to tackle the unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings. 

‘The New Plan for Immigration is the only long term solution to fix the broken system, and includes changes to the law to tackle criminal gangs and prevent further loss of life. This is a shared, international challenge and we continue to work with other countries to meet it.’ 

Among those who survived the perilous journey was a 16-day-old girl who was pictured on the rocky beach cradled in white blankets in the arms of a Border Force official.

Miss Patel previously threatened to turn boats around and send them back to Europe as part of her ‘pushback’ plan. However, French politicians branded the Home Secretary a ‘clown’, while Mr Darmanin claimed any action to send migrant boats back would be illegal. He said: ‘France will not accept any practice that goes against maritime law, and will not accept any financial blackmail’.

The French commander in charge of stopping migrants in the Channel has threatened to pull out his men if UK funds are withheld.

In an explosive intervention, General Frantz Tavart said that if the Home Secretary goes through with her pledge to cut UK-taxpayer support he will call off nightly patrols.

The gendarmerie is currently mounting night-time operations to intercept migrants on the French coast, with 130 regulars and reservists working in the Calais area, General Tavart told the BBC.

He said: ‘We know the British have threatened to cut their financial support. I’m very clear. If they stop paying for their reservists I will pull my men. For us, it is a real form of ingratitude.’

General Tavart added: ‘The proof of our efficiency is that smugglers are now trying to go from the Belgian coast, even the Somme. But that dilutes our resources across the territory. It’s like a game of chess where the smugglers always make the first move.’ 

In July Miss Patel agreed to give France another £54million. But weeks later she was reported to have told Tory MPs privately: ‘We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far and France is going to have to get its act together if it wants to see the cash. It’s payment by results and we’ve not seen those results. The money is conditional.’

After her remarks, and disclosure of a UK plan to turn around boats in the Channel, France’s interior minister said his country would not accept ‘any practice contrary to maritime law, nor any financial blackmail’.

It comes as Sky News footage this week showed migrants leaving Calais unchallenged by armed police – in what is likely to be a fresh blow to Anglo-French relations.

Dozens of people were seen piling into inflatable rafts, dinghies – and even a canoe – in their desperate bid to make it across the English Channel, with French security ‘stood by and watched’.  

A the Tory annual conference earlier this week, Miss Patel described France as a ‘safe country’ and reiterated her desire to ‘turn back the boats’. 

After evading French security at first light, the migrants piled into dinghies and spent nine hours crossing the English Channel, before they were picked up by immigration officers this afternoon.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin talks to the press during a visit on the theme of border controls and fight against illegal immigration on October 9, 2021

French officials are said to be launching an investigation after armed police officers were accused of standing by and watching as dozens of migrants departed Calais this week

After evading French security at first light, the migrants piled into dinghies and spent nine hours crossing the English Channel, before they were picked up by British immigration officers yesterday

Armed French police officers (left) watch on from 100 yards away as scores of migrants (right) begin their perilous journey across the English Channel in Calais, France

Home Office blew £6,757 in a month at Domino’s in Dover for migrants who had crossed the Channel 

The Home Office spent £6,757 in one month on Domino’s pizzas to feed migrants arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel from France, figures show.

Hundreds of pizzas were bought from the Dover branch of the fast food chain in July, according to analysis of the government department’s spending.

A disclosure log for Home Office procurement card transactions costing more than £500 for the four-week period contained five separate entries from UK Immigration Enforcement for such food orders, totalling £6,757. 

The takeaways were provided while migrants were at Tug Haven – a short-term holding facility in Dover where they are first taken from the beach or sea.

The most expensive entry – £1,824 – said: ‘This was an urgent need to feed a large number of migrants that had been on the Tug Haven compound in Dover for over 12 hours, and were likely to stay over 24 hours due to issues blocking their movement with resources and the Irc (immigration removal centre) estate.’ 

 

Ruthless people smugglers have taken advantage of the warm start to October, with a recent surge in successful crossings reported across Kent in the past week. 

But Sky News has reported French security ‘stood by and watched’ the scenes of chaos unfold from less than 100 yards away instead of intervening. 

A group of approximately 10 officers allegedly stood idle as two separate groups of migrants piled onto inflatable boats that took up to 10 minutes to get their engines started. 

In a later clip, a helicopter flown by French border control flies over the Strait of Dover, watching on as another caravan of migrants makes the treacherous journey. 

French officials are said to be investigating patrol efforts on the French border in the wake of the footage, Sky News reports.  Since the start of the year, more than 17,000 migrants have succeeded in reaching the UK – double the figure for the whole of 2020. 

Dan O’Mahoney, clandestine channel threat commander for Border Force, said: ‘The Government is determined to tackle the unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings using every tool at our disposal, at every stage in the journey.

‘Working with police and international partners, this year there have been nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions related to small boat criminality and our targeted efforts have prevented more than 13,500 migrant attempts. But this is a complicated issue requiring changes to our laws. 

‘The Government’s New Plan for Immigration provides a long term solution to fix the broken system and deliver the change required to tackle criminal gangs and prevent further loss of life.’

It comes after September was the busiest month on record, with Dover receiving four times the amount of migrants compared to September 2020. 

Official statistics showed more than 3,872 have arrived in 113 incidents last month – breaking the 3,509 who made the dangerous journey in 117 boats in July.

And officers have now detained at least 17,228 migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats so far this year, more than double the record number who made the treacherous crossing in all of 2020.

The Home Office has been contacted to provide comment. 

In 2020 there were a total of 8,410 were detained in small boat incidents. Last year, inspectors found that migrants ‘almost always’ arrived wet and cold and then ‘often had to spend hours in the open air or in cramped containers’. 

This comes just days after Miss Patel committed to reducing the number of channel crossings, telling the Tory Party conference in Manchester: ‘The shocking images of people crammed into flimsy boats, exploited by people smugglers, vile criminals, characterized by ruthlessness and greed who even threatened to drown small children just to line their pockets.

‘This can not continue, this is why we are going after the criminals behind this perilous trade of people smuggling.’

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