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UK and French ministers’ migrant crisis talks on ‘new avenues of co-operation’

Priti Patel and Christophe Castaner are discussing the latest wave of attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is meeting her French counterpart in Paris to discuss the latest wave of attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Home Secretary Priti Patel is meeting her French counterpart in Paris to discuss the latest wave of attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel (Gareth Fuller/PA)

By Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent

The Home Secretary has arrived in Paris for talks with the French interior minister in a bid to tackle the migrant crisis.

Priti Patel and Christophe Castaner shook hands as she arrived at his offices on Thursday afternoon. They are meeting with officials to discuss the latest wave of attempts by migrants to cross the English Channel.

In a tweet he said he was happy to receive his counterpart at the ministry and they would discuss “new avenues of co-operation” to combat “illegal Channel crossings”.

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Home Secretary Priti Patel is meeting her French counterpart to discuss the Channel migrants crisis (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Border Force cutters continued patrols along the south coast on Thursday morning in the wake of small boats crossing from France to the UK on an almost daily basis over the last week.

More than 220 migrants – including at least 40 children – have been intercepted by UK and French authorities since Thursday last week.

The Home Secretary has faced calls from charities working with migrants to visit northern France to see the situation, while campaigners urged her to put “dignity” and welfare at the heart of any plans.

Earlier this week, Ms Patel reportedly tasked the Home Office with finding an urgent solution to the ongoing crossings.

Last week, UK and French authorities dealt with nearly 100 migrants, including 17 children, trying to cross the Channel in one day.

On Friday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson prompted widespread criticism from campaigners as he warned illegal migrants that they would be sent back if they risked crossing the Channel.

Some charities, lawyers and politicians branded his comments misleading, inflammatory, unlawful and inhumane, saying his claim would “violate international law”.

The UK has a legal obligation under what is known as the Dublin Regulation to ensure that asylum applications lodged are examined and considered.

In the days following Mr Johnson’s comments it emerged that almost 40,000 failed asylum seekers remain in the UK, despite being targeted for removal.

David Wood, a former director general of immigration enforcement at the Home Office, told The Times that “in reality the longer they stay the more difficult it is to remove them” as they build roots in the UK.

Separate figures showed the number of people offered asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection by the UK has risen to 18,519 – its highest level since 2003 and a 29% increase on the previous year.

In the last week, the body of a migrant believed to have died while attempting to swim across the Channel was reportedly found near a Belgian port, with swimming flippers and a life jacket made of plastic water bottles.

PA

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