EU border agency plane to monitor Channel to stop small boat crossings, ministers agree without UK

'I've seen a lot worse than that where I've come from,' a 17-year-old in a refugee camp told ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith, referring to the 27 that died when a boat capsized in the Channel

An EU plane is set to monitor the English Channel in a bid to stop dangerous small boat crossings, after 27 people including children died after their dinghy capsized.

Interior ministers from France, the Netherlands, Belgium and the European Commission met in Calais on Sunday to discuss the ongoing Channel crossing crisis without Priti Patel after she was uninvited from the crucial talks.

It was decided that from December 1 a plane operated by EU border agency Frontex will help the countries to monitor their shores. Migration officials also pledged to work together more closely against people-smuggling networks and the trade in inflatable boats, as thousands were seen waiting to make the perilous journey in small boats from the shores of Calais on Sunday.

Ms Patel earlier said it was “unfortunate” she could not be present at the emergency meeting but instead spoke with Dutch migration minister Ankie Broekers-Knol on the phone on Sunday morning.

Both she and the Dutch minister agreed over the need for countries to work together after an inflatable dinghy capsized in the freezing waters of the Channel earlier this week.

Why so many are undeterred by this week's tragic events to attempt the crossing themselves, explains ITV News Correspondent Peter Smith

The Home Office said: “They agreed that the tragic incidents of last week demonstrate the need for European partners to work together.

"It was clear that shared problems needed shared solutions."

She warned on Twitter that failing to increase co-operation with Europe could cause “even worse scenes” in the English Channel this winter and said she would be hosting "urgent talks" with her EU counterparts next week.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told reporters that leaders at the meeting had stressed the need to work with the UK to tackle the issue.

He said: “This meeting was not anti-English. It was pro-European. “We want to work with our British friends and allies."

Home Secretary Priti Patel Credit: PA

The UK’s invitation to the meeting was withdrawn after Prime Minister Boris Johnson angered Emmanuel Macron by publicly sharing a letter he had written to the French president on how to deal with the issue. Ms Patel said conversations with Mr Darmanin had been “constructive” on Thursday, though she did not repeat the term about their talks on Friday as the diplomatic row was peaking.

Ms Patel wrote in the Sun on Sunday: “There should now be an even greater onus on all of us on both sides of the Channel to act.

“We have a long history of working constructively with our friends across the Channel on shared challenges.”

A map of where the boat capsized killing 27 in the Channel as they tried to reach the UK Credit: PA Graphics

Labour shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News: “France blames Britain, Britain blames France. The truth is that both governments are engaging in a blame game while children drown off our coastline.

“It’s just simply unconscionable and any responsible government on either side of the Channel would set aside those differences and work together to deal with what is a collective share problem that will only be solved together.”

Wednesday’s tragedy claimed 27 lives, said to have included an expectant mother, children and a 24-year-old Kurdish woman from northern Iraq trying to reunite with her fiance.

It was the highest death toll on record in the current crisis.