English Channel: Border Force staff take part in exercises
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Ms Patel had pledged to pay an additional £54million to France in order to stop the number of migrants crossing from the Channel earlier this year. General Frantz Tavart, claimed Ms Patel had been ungrateful to France amid fears the Home Secretary may decide to withdraw the payment. He also insisted the work done by local police and reservists had now halted operations in Calais and forced traffickers into Belgium.
Speaking to the BBC, general Tavart 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.
“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, Ms Patel pledged the additional money to bolster France’s coastal patrols.
However, over 17,000 migrants have crossed the Channel this year – more than double the number in 2020.
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Earlier this month, Ms Patel met with France’s interior minister, Gerald Darmanin to discuss migrant crossings.
According to a statement about the talks released by the Home Office, Ms Patel said: “Made clear that delivering results and stopping crossings were an absolute priority for the British people, and that tackling the scourge of illegal migration and organised criminal networks is a joint challenge that neither country can tackle alone.”
The UK Border Force has since undertaken training to divert migrant vessels as they attempt to cross the Channel.
After meeting his UK counterpart, Mr Darmanin said: “The UK’s commitment must be kept.
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“I clearly said it to my counterpart Priti Patel.
“The friendship between our two countries deserves better than posturing which undermines the cooperation between our ministries.”
Pierre-Henri Dumont, MP for Calais accused the UK of attempting to blackmail France.
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He said: “We are just doing our jobs and trying to save lives in the Channel and make sure that it does not turn into a graveyard.
“The UK needs to address the causes that make people want to claim asylum in the UK.
“Many of these people are from former British colonies.”
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