James Cleverly this morning insisted Britain has already seen a “return on our investment” of millions sent to France in recent years to stop small boats. The Foreign Secretary said France has stopped around half of attempted Channel crossings but added that the number of people trying to make the dangerous journey is “unprecedented”.
Mr Cleverly is in Paris as part of the UK-France summit where Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.
High on the priority list for their discussions will be the problem of migrants crossing from the large stretch of coastline in northern France to southern England in flimsy rubber dinghies.
Asked on GB News when the UK will see a result for millions sent to France to get a grip on the issue, Mr Cleverly said: “The truth is we have already seeing a return on our investment.
“The French authorities have stopped around half of the attempted crossings.
“But we are seeing unprecedented numbers of people who are migrating through continental Europe, often through France attempting to get to the UK.
“It is in our collective interests to get a grip on this. The French authorities and the British authorities have been working together, we want to find ways of being able to do more together, to be more effective together, this is in part what we will be discussing today at the Anglo-French summit.
“The money that we have been spending with the French authorities has made a difference.
“There have been many more people making the attempt, as I say the French have stopped around of the attempted crossings and we’re looking at finding ways of working with them to try and do more.”
Britain has given more than £250 million to France since 2015 in a series of deals but migrant Channel crossings have continued to rise.
And the PM is expected to announce today that the UK will hand France hundreds of millions of pounds to help solve the issue.
Mr Cleverly this morning confirmed more money would be sent to Paris for joint efforts to stop small boats.
He told BBC Breakfast: “It will cost money, it has cost money and of course we will be negotiating how we fund that joint work to prevent those migration attempts across the Channel.
“I’m not going to speculate as to the outcomes of the negotiation but we have been spending money doing this, it’s right and proper that we do and of course we will be spending money in the future.”
It comes as the PM will use talks with the French Presiden to push for France to “go further” on joint efforts to prevent migrants making the perilous journey across the Channel.
The UK Government is known to want a bilateral returns agreement with Paris, a deal that would allow London to immediately return those arriving on British shores unlawfully from France.
The meeting is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough on such an accord, with British ministers and diplomats instead privately aiming to cajole Mr Macron’s administration into being a driving force behind an EU-wide returns agreement with the UK.
The summit comes days after Mr Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who will also meet with her counterpart in the French capital today, unveiled the Illegal Migration Bill.
The crackdown announced on Tuesday would see migrants who arrive through unauthorised means deported and hit with a lifetime ban from returning.
Nearly 3,000 people have arrived via small boats in the UK already this year but it is understood that France has successfully prevented around the same number from embarking on the journey.
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