The French interior minister is due to visit Calais to inspect efforts in the fight against illegal immigration in the canal – after Sky News filmed dozens of migrants traveling to Britain while armed police stood and watched.
Gerald Darmanin is expected to speak to police and speak France‘s role in controlling migration as tensions with Britain intensify.
Sky News footage shows dozens of migrants leaving beaches this week on dinghies and even a canoe – beginning the potentially dangerous journey without being challenged by French police.
The Home Office has said it will raise footage for Sky News with French colleagues – after Britain signed a £ 54m deal with France to increase patrols back in July.
It has described the record rise in migrant crossings to the UK across the Channel this year as “unacceptable”.
Minister of the Interior Priti Patel told the Tory Party Conference this week that France “is a safe country” and she will “return the boats”.
However, several migrants successfully crossed the canal on Saturday, where border force vessels brought them to safety in Dover and Dungeness in Kent.
Along with the migrant crisis, relations between Britain and France have been further strained AUKUS submarine conflict and row of fishing rights after Brexit.
In a speech to Sky News, Jonathan Portes, Britain In a Europe in Change Europe said: “I think there has clearly been a deterioration in the relationship between Britain and France on this score, as well as on many others on many others fronts, whether it ranges from the submarine agreement with Australia to the problems of French fishermen complaining about being shut out of their historic fishing waters near the Channel Islands.
“It is difficult to know whether this is just an isolated incident or whether it reflects this broader deterioration of French conditions in Britain. Now, to the extent that it is the latter, it is clearly very detrimental to Britain and to France.”
A busy weekend of migrant crossings was expected in Dover, Kent, due to the good weather conditions.
“The fog is rising, the sun is coming out and the waters are incredibly calm at the moment, making the dangerous journey a little easier to make,” said Sky News reporter Aisha Zahid, who reported from Dover.
“But the calm water is deceiving, it’s still an incredibly treacherous journey down the world’s busiest sailing route. And if people get into trouble while trying to make the crossing, it can escalate into danger very, very quickly.”
She continued: “This year has been a record year for migrant transitions – and it is going to be a particular concern for the government.
“Priti Patel gave the French authorities £ 54 million over the summer to double patrols, but there has been criticism that the French authorities are not doing enough”.
How many migrant crossings have there been, how is Priti Patel trying to change Britain’s policy, and what is France doing? It tells Samuel Osborne
More than 17,000 migrants have successfully reached the UK since the beginning of the year. That is double the number for 2020.
More than 25,000 people have been at risk of death by crossing the English Channel aboard dinghies, kayaks and other small boats since the beginning of last year, according to PA news agency data.
Interior Minister Priti Patel introduced a new law on nationality and borders in July, which she claims will help reduce the number of crossings.
If passed, the bill would increase prison sentences for people entering the UK illegally.
It will also consider whether someone arrived in the UK legally or illegally when they could potentially grant them asylum.
The Home Secretary must have asked the border force to repel some migrant vessels from British waters towards France.
France has repeatedly refused to intercept or take back migrant boats.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said French police were making no attempt to prevent people from crossing the canal.
He told Sky News: “They are not doing anything to challenge those who come to France upon entry. The EU is doing absolutely nothing to prevent them from entering.
“They come from a safe country [France] and that country does absolutely nothing to help them stay in that country. “
On Saturday morning, a couple of border force vessels made their way to the canal. They will focus on bringing any migrants they encounter to safety.
French police have come up with a number of reasons why they have not intervened with migrant crossings.
Sky News’ Europe correspondent Adam Parsons said officers in Sangatte, Calais, told him they felt outnumbered by the migrants as one boat carried about 80 people, while another said it was “more complicated”. when children are involved.
Police also said that once a boat has been shot into the water, it is subject to the law of the sea so they cannot intervene.
Tensions between Britain and France continue to rise this week after French fishermen threatened to block the port of Calais and cut off Christmas gear in a fishing line after Brexit.
They claim that they have been “deceived” by the British government over fishing license applications and have called on the European Commission to take “retaliatory measures”.
And France has again threatened to cut off Britain from energy supplies if the terms of the Brexit agreement are not met.
The country’s European Minister, Clement Beaune, said the agreement should be “fully implemented” and – if not – then “we will take European or national measures to put pressure on Britain”.