Boris sets out Channel plan to Macron after 27 drown off Britain’s coast

Boris Johnson and Macron
There looks set to be deeper cooperation to break up the trade after a tragic loss of life on Wednesday (Picture: PA/Rex/Reuters/AP)

Boris Johnson has set out a five-point plan to Emmanuel Macron after the ‘catastrophe’ in the Channel yesterday. 

The prime minister wrote to his counterpart in Paris urging more cooperation to prevent people from attempting the dangerous crossing.

More than 25,000 people have traversed the treacherous waters in small boats so far this year and 27 people lost their lives trying to emulate them yesterday.

The French prosecutors’ office investigating the incident said the dead included 17 men, seven women, plus two boys and one girl believed to be teenagers.

President Macron confirmed he was seeking ‘extra help’ to crackdown on the human trafficking networks operating on the north coast of France.

Mr Johnson said his plan, which includes joint patrols to prevent boats from leaving France and a bilateral returns agreement, would have ‘an immediate and significant impact’ on crossings.

He also suggested that the agreement would be in France’s interest by breaking the business model of criminal gangs running the people smuggling trade from Normandy.

epa09602238 Graves of migrants who died while trying to cross illegally from France into Britain, at the Cimetiere Nord, in Calais, France, 25 November 2021. At least 27 migrants have died and two others have been taken to hospital after a boat in which they were trying to cross the La Manche canal (English Channel) to Great Britain sank on 24 November. EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA
Some of those killed have been buried in Calais but more are continue to attempt the crossing (Picture: EPA)
A group of more than 40 migrants get on an inflatable dinghy, as they leave the coast of northern France to cross the English Channel, near Wimereux, France, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Gangsters can make tens of thousand from a single boat full of desperate people looking to start a new life in the UK(Picture: Reuters)

In an open letter published on Twitter, he called for joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches and the deployment of more advanced technology, like sensors and radar.

He also suggested reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters with airborne surveillance and real-time intelligence-sharing to deliver more arrests.

Finally, he asked for immediate work on a bilateral returns agreement with France, alongside talks to establish a UK-EU returns agreement.

Mr Johnson added: ‘If those who reach this country were swiftly returned, the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be significantly reduced.

‘This would be the single biggest step we could take together to reduce the draw to Northern France and break the business model of criminal gangs.

‘I am confident that by taking these steps and building on our existing cooperation we can address illegal migration and prevent more families from experiencing the devastating loss we saw yesterday.’

Migrants are helped by RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) lifeboat before being taken to a beach in Dungeness, on the south-east coast of England, on November 24, 2021, after crossing the English Channel. - The past three years have seen a significant rise in attempted Channel crossings by migrants, despite warnings of the dangers in the busy shipping lane between northern France and southern England, which is subject to strong currents and low temperatures. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
More than 25,000 have made it across this year but dozens have lost their lives (Picture: AFP)
People take part in a protest outside the Home Office in Westminster, London, demanding an end to deaths in the Channel. 27 people drowned after their boat sank in the English channel on Wednesday in the deadliest crossing on record. Picture date: Thursday November 25, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS Migrants . Photo credit should read: James Manning/PA Wire
A protest has taken place outside the Home Office today with people calling for more action to protect the vulnerable people attempting the crossing (Picture: PA)

Earlier, Home Secretary Priti Patel said the drownings were a ‘dreadful shock’ and described the crossings as ‘absolutely unnecessary’ after renewing an offer of sending British officers to join patrols on French beaches during a call with French interior minister Gerald Darmanin.

She said during an emergency statement in the Commons: ‘There is also no quick fix.

‘This is about addressing long-term pull factors, smashing the criminal gangs that treat human beings as cargo and tackling supply chains.’

The government later confirmed Ms Patel would meet Mr Darmanin over the weekend to discuss the response to the crisis, while Home Office officials and law enforcement officers will travel to Paris on Friday ‘to intensify joint co-operation and intelligence-sharing’.

Two more small boats carrying desperate individuals were believed to have arrived on British shores today.

One group wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen huddled together on board an RNLI lifeboat before disembarking in Dover on Thursday morning. High winds put a stop to the crossings later in the day.

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

Five people have been arrested by French authorities following the capsizing on Wednesday, with prosecutors pursuing possible homicide charges.

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Boris sets out Channel plan to Macron after 27 drown off Britain’s coast