Britain on Thursday renewed an offer to send police and border forces to France to conduct joint patrols along the Channel coast after at least 27 migrants drowned in a crossing attempt.
Although France had previously turned down the offer, officials said Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisted it remained on the table during telephone talks with French President Emmanuel Macron late Wednesday.
“Our proposal is to extend our support, but at the same time work closely with our partners on the respective beaches,” Johnson said in an interview to the BBC late Wednesday.
“Given what has happened, I hope it will be acceptable now,” he said. He added that people-smugglers cannot be allowed to “avoid murder”.
Immigration Minister Kevin Foster said the UK had sent a helicopter to help with the search and rescue operation at France’s request, after the deadliest crash since the Channel became a hub for migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia in 2018. .
Foster told BBC television on Thursday that the UK is keen to work with France and “we are delighted to support their operations on the beach”.
“We are ready to offer support on the ground, we are ready to offer resources, we are ready to offer people to go there and assist the French authorities,” he said.
But Foster and other ministers reaffirmed the Johnson government’s intention to strengthen penalties against people-trafficking and illegal entry into Britain under draft legislation currently progressing through parliament.
Home Minister Priti Patel, who is spearheading the legislation, was due to speak to her French counterpart Gerald Darmainin later on Thursday.
The UK government has expanded 54 million ($72 million, 64 million euros) in financial aid to help French authorities deal with crossings before migrants reach UK waters.
But it has made clear its frustration with Paris that so many people are still getting through, as local authorities in south-east England struggle to deal with the logistics of so many new arrivals.
According to data compiled by Britain’s PA news agency, more than 25,700 people have traveled cross-Channel in small boats this year – tripling the total for the whole of 2020.
Bruno Bonnell, an MP representing Macron’s en Marche party, said he would not be opposed to Britain helping police along the French border, despite concerns in Paris over violations of national sovereignty.
“Unless it’s a really normal operation and there’s no way to twist the information once again, showing that the French people are taking their eyes off those long-boat departures,” he told BBC radio.
But Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said the call to increase patrols on France’s beaches was a “crazy solution” to the migrant crisis.
“I think it is time for both of our governments to stop blaming each other and talk to each other and find real solutions,” he told BBC television.
However, the blame-game intensified on Thursday with Britain’s best-selling newspapers, all carrying a front-page photo of a French police vehicle, apparently sitting idly as migrants drove through the waters of northern France. had entered.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)