UK and France reveal migration deal as PM says it's too soon to set refugee cap

ITV News Correspondent Ian Woods reports on the UK's new deal with France to curb the number of migrants crossing the Channel.

More migrants arrived in the UK as the government signed a fresh multi-million-pound deal with France in a bid to curb Channel crossings.

The fresh agreement, hiking the figure paid to France by the UK to around 72 million euros (£63 million) in 2022/23, will see British officers stationed in French control rooms for the first time and a 40% boost in beach patrols along the country’s northern coastline.

It will be the first time British officers will be embedded with their French counterparts.

Rishi Sunak told reporters on Monday that he would look into imposing a cap on the number of refugees the UK accepts each year - but he would prioritise tackling illegal migration first.

Political Correspondent Harry Horton reports from Dover on the huge rise in the number of crossings and how the government thinks this deal can bring those numbers down

The prime minister made the pledge on quotas during his first leadership race in the summer.

“Having a conversation like that can only happen after we've taken all the necessary steps to have proper control of our borders," he said, speaking to reporters enroute to the G20 summit in Indonesia on Tuesday.

The PM also revealed that his plan to cut illegal migration does not include introducing a requirement for ID cards. He said the UK's e-visa system for foreign visitors to the UK suffices, and that 98% of people in the country already possess a form of photo ID.

"The third thing is we have already strengthened the penalties on the enforcement side, whether that is for landlords or employers or for those working illegally themselves," he said.

The deal with France comes as the number of people arriving on the south coast after making the journey topped 40,000 for the year so far, with crossings continuing on Monday.

Sunak 'confident we can get the numbers down' as he says cooperation with France is key to solving crisis

Mr Sunak had raised the issue of small boats bringing people across from Calais to Dover in his first meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron last week at Cop27 in Egypt, the PM said, and the deal showed that the only way to make progress was working with others.

"I’m pleased we’re signing a new deal with the French... but that is not the end of our co-operation and the agreement should be a foundation for even greater cooperation in the months ahead."

Further measures signed off earlier in Paris by Home Secretary Suella Braverman and French interior minister Gerald Darmanin include drones and night vision equipment to help officers detect crossings, as well as stepping up surveillance around ports to prevent migrants entering the UK in lorries, with more CCTV and sniffer dogs.

Suella Braverman signs deal with the French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin in Paris, France, to tackle the small boats crisis Credit: PA

A Home Office policy paper detailing the agreement said the “activity will begin with immediate effect”, with the rise in French officers on beach patrols taking place “in the next five months”.

Rishi Sunak said the move would contribute to his efforts to “grip illegal migration”, and that he was “confident” numbers would come down over time.

More than 1,800 migrants arrived in the UK over the weekend marking the first Channel crossings in November after an 11-day hiatus amid bad weather.

'There is no quick fix, no silver bullet' when it comes to migration, says Suella Braverman.

Government figures show 972 people arrived in 22 boats on Saturday, followed by 853 people in 26 boats on Sunday, taking the provisional total for the year so far to 41,729. Total crossings last year were 28,526.

The increase in beach patrols in northern France would “increase early detection”, Downing Street said, while the presence of British police joining French law enforcement as observers in control rooms and on approaches to beaches is meant to improve understanding of the threat at hand and help inform deployments.

Other measures to be introduced as part of the deal include establishing a new taskforce to address the “recent rise in Albanians and organised crime groups exploiting illegal migration routes” into Western Europe and the UK, No 10 said.

Meanwhile, Britain and France also pledged to ramp up co-operation on the matter, with a meeting of the “Calais Group” of neighbouring countries to be scheduled as soon as possible.

The deal sees the two countries promise to share more intelligence and invest in reception centres in the south of France to “deter” migrants coming into the country from the Mediterranean from “moving to the Channel coast” to attempt crossings.

There will also be French removal centres for migrants prevented from crossing to the UK who opt to be returned back to their own country where it is “appropriate, safe and legal”, Home Office papers said.

Ms Braverman, who is to meet neighbouring countries “as soon as possible” and will travel to Frankfurt later this week to discuss tackling serious organised crime with her G7 counterparts, said: “We must do everything we can to stop people making these dangerous journeys and crack down on the criminal gangs. This is a global challenge requiring global solutions, and it is in the interests of both the UK and French governments to work together to solve this complex problem.

“There are no quick fixes but this new arrangement will mean we can significantly increase the number of French gendarmes patrolling the beaches in northern France and ensure UK and French officers are working hand in hand to stop the people smugglers.”

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