Boris Johnson said to Emmanuel Macron last night, that he is at risk of another Channel tragedy unless he ceases blocking UK aid for French shore patrols.
Dramatically, Johnson wrote to France’s president asking him to offer the hundreds of British staff to help stop the desperate migrants taking to the waters.
Downing Street said if Mr Macron backed down, there could be British boots on France’s northern shore as early as Monday in a radical bid to prevent a repeat of Wednesday’s tragedy.
France, which claims to be under French sovereignty, has stubbornly refused to let British law enforcement officers operate on French soil.
Yesterday, Mr Macron’s government continued to push back against the move, warning Mr Johnson not to ‘exploit’ the crisis for political ends.
But Government sources insisted that after 27 migrants drowned in the ‘dreadful disaster’, the French president had to relent.
After 27 people died crossing the Channel, the Prime Minister (57) announced that he had called upon the French President (43), to return migrants who crossed the ‘dangerous’ Channel.
France has so far stubbornly refused to let British law enforcement officers operate on French soil. They claim it would be a violation of French sovereignty. After the Wednesday deaths of 27 migrants, President Macron (pictured November 22, 2017) might be willing to compromise.
As a group of 40 migrants board an inflatable boat, they depart the northern coast of France in order to cross the English Channel near Wimereux. This was November 24, 2021.
Many protestors gathered at the Home Office, Westminster, London. They demanded an end to the deaths on the Channel after the tragic events.
The banner contains the names and addresses of all those who have died trying to cross the La Manche Canal at Parc de Richelieu (Calais), France 25/11/2021.
The flag that reads “Refugees are welcome” was displayed at Parc de Richelieu (Calais), France 25/11/2021.
If Border Force personnel are found unacceptable, the Prime Minister suggested that private security personnel be paid for to carry out the joint patrols. He proposed that joint maritime patrols be conducted, so Border Force cutters could operate in French waterways.
He suggested increased intelligence sharing and more sophisticated technology to spot migrants and prevent them from leaving France.
In addition, he urged Paris to negotiate a ‘returns agreement’ that would allow the UK to send migrants back to France, breaking the traffickers’ business model.
Yesterday, officials from the Home Office travelled to France ahead of today’s talks with France’s interior ministry. Home Secretary Priti Patel yesterday said Mr Macron had the power to ‘end this now’.
Her comments came as more horrific details emerged about Wednesday’s tragedy. French authorities originally stated that the death count was 31. But, they later increased it to 27.
One migrant feared to be among the dead had phoned a friend to say: ‘It’s not good, the engine isn’t powerful enough – I don’t know if we’re going to make it.’ Mohammad Aziz, 31, has not been heard of since his frantic call.
The Channel sank Wednesday afternoon and many migrants who were feared to drown are thought to have traveled to France by the new controversial route through Belarus. There were two girls and a boy, and seven women (including an expecting mother), who died. 17 men also perished.
Priti Patel (Home Secretary) stated there was no quick way to deal with migrants trying to cross the Channel by small boats. France, however, demanded new help
Johnson issued a five-point urgent plan that would prevent another tragedy. It included joint patrols between France and England to keep boats from leaving French shores. Pictured: Protest outside Home Office on Thursday
In a series of developments:
- Many of those migrants who were feared to drown are thought to have traveled to France via the new controversial Belarus route.
- According to the death certificates, there were two girls and one boy; seven females (including an expectant mom); and seventeen men.
- Yesterday, a body was discovered on the Sangatte beach, west of Calais. There are fears that it may be the 28th victim.
- A transcript of the mayday call – made by a French coastguard during the rescue operation – revealed it had implored ‘all ships in the area’ to help;
- It was believed that more than 250 migrants reached Britain the day before the tragedy. Another 50 arrived yesterday. That brings the total to 26,000 since the beginning of the year.
- Five men arrested in France after the deaths were said by prosecutors to have ‘no provable link’ to the tragedy, despite the country’s interior minister earlier claiming they were ‘directly’ involved;
- Britain’s asylum claim numbers have risen to their highest levels in almost 20 years.
- Tory MPs suggested that migrants be immediately sent back to France by the Tory Party
French police stretcher unidentified victim found off Sangatte beaches. The incident occurred the same day as 27 migrants were killed when their dinghy burst while they tried to cross the English Channel.
MailOnline spoke to migrants in Calais, who said they were more determined than ever before to get to the UK. They claim that 50 migrants are still crossing the Channel from France today. Photographed: Outside the Home Office, a protestor displays a placard that states “no one’s illegal”.
As people remember the 27 migrants killed crossing the English Channel in their dinghy, a person light a candle at Richelieu Park, Dunkerque (France), November 25, 2021
Mr Johnson and Mr Macron spoke on Wednesday night, with the Elysée later briefing that the French president had asked the PM ‘to refrain from exploiting a tragic situation for political ends’.
Government sources said last night there were ‘positive noises’ from Paris about the possibility of a new deal to combat the crisis.
‘After this dreadful disaster, the political movement now seems to be in a positive direction,’ one said. ‘From the noises we are hearing, there seems to be movement on the French side.’ In the first sign of a climbdown, Mr Macron yesterday said he would be seeking ‘extra help’ from the UK.
Miss Patel urged Mr Macron to take up the PM’s offers. ‘We need to deploy every single tool that we have to save lives and to prevent the loss of life, and that is effectively what this is now about,’ she said.
The five-point plan of the Prime Minister
1. French border force officials will assist in patrolling beaches and other roads. If France rejects this, the UK may fund private security.
2. Allow the UK to return migrants who cross the Channel directly to France and ‘break the business model of criminal gangs’
3. Border Force cutters will be used to patrol French coast waters. French Navy could be allowed to enter UK waters in joint missions
4. UK could finance the deployment of radar and ground sensors in northern France for detection of suspicious activity at remote beaches. PM also offered to ‘deepen’ intelligence-sharing on the operations of smuggling gangs
5. PM offered intelligence from British surveillance flights to France to aid French forces in intercepting smuggling operations faster.
Boris Johnson, Britain’s Prime Minster speaks at Prime Minister’s Questions in London on November 24, 2021