- By Chris Mason
- Political teacher, traveling with the Prime Minister
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak heads to Paris to urge France to “go further” in joint efforts to stop migrants crossing the English Channel.
Mr Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron will meet senior ministers at the Elysee Palace in the first Anglo-French summit for five years.
The UK wants to see increased police patrols on French beaches, where many small boats pass by.
A deal on the return of migrants from the UK to France is not expected.
Under the plans, anyone who entered the country illegally would not only be removed from the UK within 28 days, but would also be barred from returning to or claiming British citizenship in the future.
Those arriving on UK shores will be returned to their home country or another “safe third country” such as Rwanda.
The UK and French leaders are expected to meet for around half an hour.
The British government believes the money sent to France to increase patrols is worth the money and wants to go further.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “We want to do more and we believe that France wants to stop this illegal gang exploiting people.
“Of course we are going there with an ambition to go further in stopping these dangerous crossings,” the spokesman added.
But both London and Paris agree there will be no deal to bring back migrants who have reached Britain to France.
The French government is thought to want a deal between the UK and the EU, disappointing British diplomats who want to see swift action.
“We want an EU-UK withdrawal agreement and will push it forward,” the spokesman said.
“But it’s equally important to have work on the ground now to stop the intersections we’re seeing even in these winter months.”
“At this point, and because of Brexit, there is no renegotiation agreement between France and the United Kingdom,” a French government source said.
Labor said the lack of a new deal to return migrants to France was a “total failure”.
The British government feels that relations with their opposite numbers in Paris on this issue have improved significantly over the past two years.
But while Downing Street’s desire to “make small boat passage across the Channel impossible” is an audacious ambition, the numbers continue to rocket to prove the opposite.
So far this year, about 3,000 people have arrived in small boats, but the two governments say their joint work has stopped a similar number from starting the journey.
Rather than a major breakthrough, an announcement of deeper cooperation on the issue is expected.
Mr Sunak said: “From tackling the scourge of illegal immigration to driving investment in one’s economy, the work we do together improves the lives of every person in our countries.
“Beyond that, Britain and France have a privileged role as guardians of European and global security.”
Officials point out that both the UK and France are nuclear powers, members of the G7, G20 and NATO security alliances and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Brexit has been a stumbling block in the relationship between the UK and France in recent years.
Both London and Paris are keen to emphasize their closeness on many issues, not just Ukraine.
The Prime Minister and the President will hold a press conference on Friday afternoon and issue a joint statement.
It’s a month of particularly intense activity between the two countries – King Charles and the Queen Consort will arrive in France in a few weeks.
Next year marks the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordial, which ended centuries of rivalry between the two countries.