Watch: French minister says migrants 'attracted' to UK job market
Following the deadliest day of the current migrant crisis, a French politician has blamed human trafficking gangs and mafia bosses 'living peacefully in London' for the tragedy.
On Wednesday a migrant boat capsized causing the loss of 27 lives, prompting Boris Johnson to call on France to agree to joint police patrols along the French Channel coast.
The prime minister said the people traffickers were “literally getting away with murder” but French politicians pointed the finger at UK authorities for failing to tackle the issue on home soil.
This morning, Franck Dhersin, the vice president of transport for the northern Hauts-de-France region, told French TV station BFMTV: “In France what do we do? We arrest the smugglers…
“To fight them, there’s only one way – we need to stop the organisations, you need to arrest the mafia chiefs.
“And the mafia chiefs live in London… They live in London peacefully, in beautiful villas, they earn hundreds of millions of euros every year, and they reinvest that money in the City.
“And so it’s very easy for the tax authorities to find them”.
French interior minister Gérald Darmanin told French radio network RTL that the smugglers are “criminals, people who exploit the misery of others, of women and children”.
He said: “There were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat… and for a few thousand euros they promise them the ‘El Dorado of England’.
“And sadly, this has been repeated every day for the last 20 years”.
French president Emmanuel Macron has previously said that France would “not let the Channel become a graveyard”.
He told La Voix du Nord newspaper that the people gathering on France’s northern coast in the hope of making the perilous crossing was “a very hard situation for the people of Calais”, but vowed to “propose reforms” at the start of next year.
In a swipe at the UK government, Macron added: “We have the British, who waver between partnership and provocation. We must further reinforce collaboration.
“If those [migrants] who want to reach Great Britain have family there, this should be considered as family reunification. If they are victims of smugglers we have to smash that system.”
More people making the perilous journey across the Channel have been brought ashore this morning.
A group of people wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen huddled together on board an RNLI lifeboat before disembarking in Dover.
The prime minister spoke to Macron on Wednesday evening in the wake of the worst incident of its kind in the Channel since the current migrant crisis began.
Downing Street said they had agreed to “keep all options on the table” in their efforts to break up the human trafficking gangs responsible for putting desperate people at risk in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
Immigration minister Kevin Foster said that Priti Patel will be speaking to her French equivalent on Thursday morning about the next steps the two countries can take to halt the small boat crossings.
Patel previously told MPs that the UK is "actively pursuing" a returns agreement with France to tackle migrant crossings in the English Channel.
She added that the number of people crossing the channel was "unacceptable" and was down to a "global" migration crisis.
She claimed there was no "silver bullet" to solving the issue and the "only solution is wholescale reform of our asylum system".
Immigration compliance minister Tom Pursglove confirmed on Wednesday that the PM had renewed a previous offer to send UK police and Border Force officers to mount joint patrols with the French.
But Pierre-Henri Dumont, the MP for Calais, said he did not think that more patrols around the French border was the solution to the Channel migrant crisis, claiming it would take “thousands of people”.
More than 25,700 people have made the dangerous journey to the UK in small boats this year – three times the total for the whole of 2020, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.
There have been more than 300 border-related deaths in and around the Channel since 1999, according to a report by the Institute of Race Relations, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal London steering group and French group Gisti.
Watch: Tragedy in the Channel: Why are people crossing in small boats?