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Britain, France ink £478m fresh deal to tackle illegal immigration

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (l) and French President Emmanuel Macron During a Joint Press Conference at Elysee Palace, in Paris Photo: Kin Cheung/PA Media

*The UK Government will send Paris £478 million to fund a new detention centre in France and hundreds of extra French law enforcement officers to curb illegal immigration through the English Channel

*We are delivering on the priority to stop people coming to the UK illegally -PM Rishi Sunak

Isola Moses| ConsumerConnect

As part of measures at preventing illegal immigrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats, Britain will pay France nearly half a billion Pounds over the next three years.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced this development at a press conference Friday, March 10, 2023, in Paris, French capital.

Following a summit with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace Friday, Sunak disclosed the United Kingdom (UK) had agreed to send Paris £478 million ($577 million) to fund a new detention centre in France and hundreds of extra French law enforcement officers.

It was learnt this is the first time the UK has helped to fund a detention centre in France to enhance its ability to cope with the number of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Channel from the French coast, agency report said.

The British Government stated: “This new centre will support French efforts to increase detention capacity, allowing more migrants who might otherwise travel by dangerous and illegal routes to the UK to be removed from the French coast.”

However, the agreed funding package will be paid in instalments, with the French also contributing significantly more funding, it was announced.

Addressing a joint press conference following the talks in Paris, Sunak also said: “Emmanuel and I share the same beliefs. Criminal gangs should not get to decide who comes to our countries.

“Within weeks of my coming into office, we agreed our largest ever small boats deal and today we’ve taken our cooperation to an unprecedented level to tackle this shared challenge.”

Recent stats on illegal immigration

The UK Government figures revealed a record 45,755 illegal immigrants arrived in the country after crossing the Channel 2022, up from just around 300 in 2018.

Over 3,000 have already made the journey this year, according to report.

The Prime Minister has made “stopping the boats” one of his five priorities, and has said he is “determined to deliver” on his promise.

It is March 7, the government unveiled the Illegal Migration Bill, which would ban anyone who arrives in the UK illegally from claiming asylum.

Under the new law, illegal entrants will be swiftly removed from the UK to their home country or a safe third country like Rwanda.

They will also be banned from reentry.

Sunak further reporters in Paris: “I have made it one of my five priorities to stop the boats.

“We are delivering on that priority to stop people coming to the UK illegally.

“Last year, I agreed the largest ever small boats deal with France to increase UK-funded patrols by 40 percent.”

Sunak noted: “This week I announced measures to ensure nobody who enters the UK illegally can remain here.

“We don’t need to manage this problem, we need to break it.

“And today, we have gone further than ever before to put an end to this disgusting trade in human life.

“Working together, the UK and France will ensure that nobody can exploit our systems with impunity.”

Returns agreement ‘not on the table’: French President

Despite the increased cooperation, the UK has been unable to reach an agreement with Paris on returning illegal immigrants to France, report stated.

French President Macron said the UK must negotiate its desired immigrant return agreement with the European Union (EU) rather than France.

This is because after Brexit, the UK is no longer a party to the Dublin Regulation, an EU law setting out which country is responsible for looking at an individual’s asylum application.

“This is not an agreement between the UK and France, but an agreement between the UK and the EU.

“Because the Dublin agreements are no more in a situation to be implemented, so this is something now to be negotiated,” said Macron.

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