PM calls for joint patrols with France after 27 die in Channel

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PM and French President Emmanuel Macron agree to ‘put all options on the table’

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NS

Orris Johnson has called on France to agree to joint police patrols along the French Channel coast after a migrant boat capsized and killed 27 people.

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French officials previously said there had been 31 deaths, but revised the death toll with no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

The prime minister said he was “shocked, shocked and deeply saddened” about the “disaster” and hit out at people trafficking gangs who are “literally getting away with murder”.

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French Prime Minister Jean Casteux called it a “tragedy” and said his thoughts were with “the victims of criminal traffickers who take advantage of their distress and injury”.

The International Organization for Migration said it was the largest single loss of life in the channel since it began collecting data in 2014.

French Interior Minister Gerald Dormanin said five women and a girl were among the dead, while two survivors were picked up and being treated at a French hospital. Later one of the dead women was reported to be pregnant.

Mr. Darmanin said the boat that sank was very vulnerable, comparing it to “a pool that you float in your garden”.

Mr Johnson spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday evening. Downing Street said they have agreed to “put all options on the table” in their efforts to dismantle the human trafficking gang responsible for putting desperate people at risk in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

Immigration Compliance Minister Tom Pursglove confirmed that Mr Johnson had renewed a previous proposal to send officers of the UK Police and Border Force to conduct joint patrols with the French.

It is intended to deter migrant boats from attempting the dangerous crossing, but the French have previously protested amid concerns about the implications of their national sovereignty.

Mr Pursglove said, however, that past events showed that the two countries needed to deepen their cooperation to tackle the issue.

“The Prime Minister and President Macron had exactly the same discussion this evening. It’s something I’m very much looking forward to seeing happen,” he told BBC2’s Newsnight.

“It is the case that in the past we have offered to host and help joint patrols. I think it can be invaluable in helping to resolve this issue. I really hope the French will reconsider that proposal.”

There was shock and dismay on both sides of the channel in what was widely described as a “tragedy”.

A joint search and rescue operation launched by French and British authorities finally called off late Wednesday after a fishing boat spotted people in the seas off France.

French authorities have arrested four suspected smugglers in connection with the incident, while the regional prosecutor has launched a serious murder investigation.

After a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, Mr Johnson said it was clear the French campaign to release migrant boats was “not enough”, despite £54million in UK support.

He said smugglers were “literally getting away with killing” and hoped the French would now find the new proposal for joint patrols “acceptable”.

“We have had difficulty persuading some of our partners, especially the French, to act in a way that we think the situation deserves,” he said.

“I understand the difficulties that all countries face, but what we want to do now is to do more together – and that is what we are proposing.”

However, the mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchert, said it was the British who were to blame and called on Mr Johnson to “face his responsibilities”.

“The British government is to blame. I believe that Boris Johnson, for the past year and a half, has chosen to blame France,” she said, according to French media reports.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said the government would seek to “speed up” measures in the Nationality and Borders Bill to enable officials to “distinguish between people who come here legally and people who come here illegally.” can go”.

But the chief executive of the refugee council, Enver Solomon, said the incident should prompt the government to reconsider its approach.

“Certainly a tragedy of this magnitude is that our government needs to change its approach and finally commit to expanding safe routes for men, women and children who are in dire need of protection,” he said. Is.”

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