Canal deaths: Boris Johnson draws up a five-point plan to deal with crossings after tragedy | Politics news

Boris Johnson has offered to work with France to “move further and faster” to tackle crossings of small boats and avoid a repeat of the “shocking tragedy” in the Channel that left 27 people dead.

That prime minister has written to the President Emmanuel Macron and lined up five steps, he believes both sides should take “as soon as possible”.

Johnson’s letter comes after 27 people – 17 men, seven women and two teenage boys and a girl – died near Calais on Wednesday while trying to cross the English Channel to Britain in a flimsy boat.

The Prime Minister’s five-point plan involves:

Joint patrols to prevent migrant boats from leaving French beaches
• Use of more advanced technology such as sensors and radar
• Conduct reciprocal maritime patrols in each nation’s territorial waters and use airborne surveillance
• “Elaborate on the work” in the Joint Intelligence Cell and ensure that there is better intelligence sharing to drive more arrests and prosecutions
• Commits to “immediate work” to conclude a bilateral return agreement between Paris and London, as well as discussions on an agreement between the UK and the EU

“If those who reach this country were quickly returned, the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of human traffickers would be significantly reduced,” Johnson said.

“This would be the biggest single step we could take together to reduce the pull to the north of France and break the business model of criminal gangs.

“I am convinced that by taking these steps and building on our existing cooperation, we can address illegal migration and prevent more families from experiencing the devastating loss we saw yesterday.”

The prime minister said he had spoken to the French president in the wake of Wednesday’s tragedy “I know President Macron, as I do, recognizes the urgency of the situation we are both facing.”

Interior Minister Priti Patel will meet this weekend with French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin to discuss the migrant crisis with colleagues from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In his letter to Mr Macron, Mr Johnson said he was ready to “upgrade this meeting to a management-level summit or to arrange further bilateral discussions with you or with colleagues”.

Mrs Patel and her French colleague spoke by telephone on Thursday to “make plans for greater cooperation and innovation to stop these deadly crossings”.

Interior Ministry officials and law enforcement officials will be in Paris on Friday to “intensify joint cooperation and intelligence exchange”.

Mrs Patel, who is under pressure on the issue after promising in August 2020 to make the route across the English Channel “unsustainable”, also renewed an offer to send British officers to join patrols on French beaches.

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‘No quick fix’ to migrant crisis

The Interior Minister previously told the Commons there is “no quick fix” to tackle the crosses.

“This is about addressing long-term pull factors, smashing the criminal gangs that treat people like cargo and tackling supply chains,” she said.

Macron said he was requesting more assistance from the UK.

“We will ask for extra help from the British because all these men and these women do not want to stay in France,” he said.

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Only five migrants will return in 2021, the minister admits

“We’re telling them they’re obviously capable of doing that, and there are centers in Calais and Dunkirk where they can go, but we’ll reinforce actually rescuing them at sea.”

Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais, blamed the crisis on the British door and called on Mr Johnson to “take responsibility”.

“The British government is to blame. I think for the last year and a half Boris Johnson has cynically chosen to blame France,” she said, according to French media.

And Franck Dhersin, vice president of transport in the northern Hauts-de-France region, said the “mafia chiefs” at the head of the human trafficking networks live in Britain and need to be arrested.

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The Coast Guard warns ships that the Channel boat is sinking

Wednesday’s loss of life is the worst of the migrant crisis, which has seen the number reach Britain by sea, rising from 8,417 in 2020 to more than 25,000 so far this year.

New figures from the Home Office show that asylum applications in the UK are at the highest level in almost 20 years, with more than 37,500 applications submitted in the year to September.

A minister revealed last week that only five people had been returned to Europe after crossing the sea on small boats.

Deportations as a whole – not just for people crossing the Channel – are at an all-time low.

In the year to June 2021, they dropped to 2,910 – less than half the year before. The government blamed the pandemic for the fall.

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