You’re throwing good money after bad on migrants, MPs warn Priti
PRITI PATEL was accused of throwing ‘good money after bad’ yesterday over failures to stop migrants crossing the Channel.
Britain is sending £54million to France to help stem the flow of asylum seekers making the perilous journey – but furious MPs said the vast sums previously spent had made little difference.
The Home Secretary was accused of being ‘fobbed off’ by the French as an estimated further 219 arrived on England’s coast yesterday. More than 8,500 migrants have made the 21-mile crossing since the start of the year.
This is already more than the 8,420 that arrived in the whole of last year, which was a record at the time. About half of those attempting the journey succeed, with the French so far preventing around 7,500 migrants crossing the Channel this year – three times as many as last year.
But Tory former minister Tim Loughton said a ‘record number’ of boats had arrived since the Government sent around £26million to France in November.
Referring to the new £54million sum, he asked Miss Patel as she was grilled before the Commons home affairs committee: ‘Isn’t that throwing good money after bad?’ But she said the number of migrants attempting the crossings had ‘increased considerably’ – and blamed a change in migrants’ crossing methods.
‘[We] have seen a complete change in modus operandi in terms of the crossings,’ the Home Secretary said, with ‘widespread dispersal’ of launches along the French coastline, rather than just Calais.
Mr Loughton told her the French were making a ‘mockery’ of the arrangements to return migrants to its territory after a French naval vessel appeared to hand a number of migrants to a boat carrying journalists on Tuesday.
He urged Miss Patel to take a firmer stance with France after she suggested the French do not intercept migrant boats once they have entered the sea because they ‘have a different interpretation of saving lives at sea’.
‘Two crimes are being committed by the occupants of those boats: one is trying to enter the UK illegally and the second is paying money to organised crime,’ Mr Loughton said. ‘Both of which provide grounds for those boats to be intercepted, the occupants apprehended in as safe a way as possible and returned to France. You are getting fobbed off with excuses.’
But she insisted she had discussed with France their obligations under international law to return migrants trying to cross the Channel, and said they ‘absolutely know what their responsibilities are’. The row came after Calais MP Pierre Henri-Dumont said yesterday that more money and police officers would not prevent the crossing attempts.
‘We have too many kilometres of shore to monitor. The French coast is difficult to monitor because they can hide in a lot of places,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s
Today programme. ‘There are a lot of roads, woods and trees. Even if you are monitoring 100 per cent of a small or large part of the French coast, the smugglers will find a place to cross somewhere else.
‘If it’s not Calais it will be Normandy, and if it’s not Normandy it will be Belgium. If they’re not going to Belgium they can go to the Netherlands.
‘The question is, how could we intervene if there are small boats of migrants trying to cross and are at sea, and are not asking for help. We are not supposed to intervene.
There is no such thing that is forbidden for people to be at sea. We have no legal basis to intervene when people are in French waters.
‘You need to understand why all these migrants are taking so many risks to cross. The crossing is very dangerous.
‘They left home, their families, they left starvation, dictatorships and are not scared of any British legislation which will not let them stay in the UK.’
PRITI Patel defiantly insists she’s not throwing good money after bad by bunging France another £54million to crack down on the Channel migrants crisis.
But what other conclusion should voters draw? Flotillas of dinghies carrying desperate men, women and children arrive unabated on South Coast beaches.
Nearly 9,000 migrants have made the treacherous – and illegal – crossing so far this year, exceeding the total for the whole of 2020. Yes, some are genuine refugees. But many are economic migrants charged extortionate sums by people-smugglers to jump the immigration queue to Britain.
The disheartening truth is that France knows we’re a soft touch. Gleefully pocketing our millions, it promises to disrupt the trafficking gangs.
Then what happens? Its navy cynically escorts overcrowded migrant boats into UK waters, where the Border Force offers a taxpayer-funded taxi service to Dover.
Adding insult to injury, our supine courts and legal aid-funded activist lawyers (egged on by Labour’s open borders cheerleaders) ensure vanishingly few are ever deported. The iniquitous consequence? Others are incentivised to risk their lives.
So we welcome the Home Secretary’s plans for greater deterrents: Boats turned back, asylum-seekers flown abroad as claims are assessed, penalties for those reaching our shores via safe countries.
And Mrs Patel should redouble her efforts to work with France on border security. She must however demand concrete action – not just give them money for nothing.