France told it will receive promised £54m from UK to tackle migrant crossings

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A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel on Sunday (PA) (PA Wire)
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, onboard a Border Force vessel on Sunday (PA) (PA Wire)

The Government has promised that £54 million promised to France to help prevent small boat migrant crossings will be paid “in the coming weeks”.

Home Office Minister Damian Hinds said the delay in payment was the result of an “administrative process” which had taken time to work through.

His comments come after a French minister said “not one euro has been paid”.

Asked by BBC News on Monday when the cash would be given to the French, Mr Hinds said: “Absolutely we are working closely with the French and I expect that question that you have raised to be finalised in the coming weeks.”

Watch: Migrants arrive in Dover after attempting Channel crossing

PA Graphics (PA Graphics)
PA Graphics (PA Graphics)

He added that an “administrative process” rather than any “political question” had led to the delay in France receiving the money.

He said: “I didn’t say it was an error, it is a process to be worked through when you are transferring what are very large sums of taxpayers’ money.”

We are asking the British to keep their promises of financing because we are holding the border for them

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin

He also said: “I would like to see increased activity, increased turnback (of migrants). France is a safe country. If you are seeking asylum, you should claim it in the first safe country you come to.”

On Saturday, French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said: “For now, not one euro has been paid.

“We are asking the British to keep their promises of financing because we are holding the border for them.”

During a visit to Dunkirk, he also called on Britain to take measures to reduce its “attractiveness” for migrants without residency papers, without elaborating.

Since the start of the year, more than 18,000 people have succeeded in reaching the UK on board small boats, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

A flurry of crossing attempts last Friday saw 624 people reach the UK – the fourth highest daily tally on record during the current crisis.

Crossings continued on Saturday with at least 491 people, including children, arriving in Britain after making the perilous journey.

On Sunday, Labour shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds called on Home Secretary Priti Patel to “come clean” over her strategy to tackle small boats crossings.

Watch: Patel will 'turn back the boats' and make no apologies

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More than 1,000 cross Channel as UK urged to honour £54m pledge to France

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