Britain and France have signed another agreement in an attempt to curb the record-level number of migrants crossing from the European mainland to Britain this year.
The deal, signed on Monday by Home Secretary Suella Braverman and her French counterpart, Gérald Darmanin, will see Britain pay the French government £63 million a year to increase its surveillance on French beaches and allow British police officers to observe patrols on French territory.
The number of French border officials patrolling the country’s northern shores is expected to rise from 200 to 300 over the next five months in a bid to prevent the small boats packed with asylum seekers heading to the English coast from leaving France.
Darmanin said of the deal that it would assist with the “financing of new monitoring equipment” and “strengthen coordination and information sharing” between the two nations.
Braverman tweeted on Monday: “Today, I signed an agreement with my friend, Gérald Darmanin, in Paris to ramp up our co-ordination to tackle illegal immigration. Our new deal will see U.K. officers embedded in French operations for the first time and a 40 percent increase in French officers patrolling in northern France.
“Only by working together can we hope to solve this complex problem. I wanted to thank Gérald and his team for their work and cooperation,” she added.
A total of 853 migrants arrived in the English county of Kent on Sunday on 26 boats, bringing the total number of successful crossings to 41,769 so far this year. There were further reports of more arrivals on Monday morning.
Many conservatives remain skeptical of the deal, highlighting that an existing deal had already been struck in recent years, a move that has done nothing to reduce the number of Channel crossings.
Brexiteer and conservative broadcaster Nigel Farage said of the deal: “We are giving the French another £63 million to ‘stop’ the Channel crossings. 972 came on Saturday, 853 yesterday and more are already en route today.
“There are huge numbers in the Dunkirk area waiting, our gutless government has no intention of dealing with this.”
Richard Tice, the leader of Farage’s old party, Reform UK, which has seen its membership soar due to government failings in recent months, claimed the “Consocialist Tories have failed and Labour will not even discuss illegal immigration (…) Only Reform UK will stop the boats.”
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The U.K. government needs to stem the flow of asylum seekers for a plethora of reasons. Politically, the Conservative party has long been chastised by its core conservative members for mishandling a crisis that has been continually unfolding for a decade. Despite numerous pledges by successive Conservative home secretaries and manifesto commitments to reduce immigration to the “tens of thousands,” annual immigration has remained at record levels throughout the Conservative era dating back to 2010.
Economically speaking, the U.K. is now paying close to £2.5 billion a year on housing those arriving in small boats and claiming asylum in hotels across the country. Costing nearly £7 million a day, according to a recently revealed report by Home Office officials giving evidence to parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee, the ongoing trend is unsustainable.
Furthermore, local authorities have begun to hit back at the British government for frequently block-booking hotels to house asylum seekers, heaping more pressure on already crippled local services and causing social unrest among local residents who consider the placement of large groups of asylum seekers living in their area to be inappropriate.
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A joint letter from the local authorities in Kent to the Home Office earlier this month told the home secretary in no uncertain terms that its social services were at “breaking point.” Some MPs have begun speaking out against decisions to house asylum seekers in their constituencies, suggesting that placing large groups of undocumented males in luxury city center hotels or in accommodations located near to secondary schools is unacceptable.
There have also been a number of serious sexual offenses carried out by asylum seekers, including the rape of a 17-year-old teenage boy in a north London hotel, and the brutal hour-long rape of a woman in Wigan town center in the north-west of England, adding to local residents’ anxiety.