The U.K. government is hoping Brexit will bring greater powers to send migrants back across the English Channel to the Continent.
But as Britain prepares to exit the EU-wide migration pact in favor of securing bilateral deals with EU countries, there’s no guarantee that other capitals will agree to London’s aims.
Amid fresh attention on crossings from France to the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday condemned the activities of the “cruel” criminal gangs who were putting lives at risk by taking people on unsafe boats, hinting at the need to change the law.
Chris Philp, the British minister for immigration compliance, met his French counterpart in Paris Tuesday to put pressure on France to do more to prevent the crossings. The Home Office has also requested the assistance of the Royal Navy to deal with the issue.
“Any border is a shared responsibility and the United Kingdom and France today renewed and reaffirmed their absolute commitment to make sure this border is properly policed and this route is completely ended,” Philp told Sky News. “I’m also delighted that the French made a commitment to appoint their own commander to take responsibility in this area which is a very important step forward.”
Migrants attempt to cross the Channel every summer. More than 4,000 have completed the crossing this year so far; 597 people were intercepted between Thursday and Sunday alone.
“French authorities … [have] intercepted well over a thousand people so far this year. But the sheer numbers crossing the Channel are completely unacceptable to the French government and unacceptable to the U.K government so it’s quite clear that more needs to be done,”