Rishi Sunak expects “rapid action” if police officers are deliberately failing to stop Channel migrant crossings, Downing Street has declared.
A Daily Express investigation revealed some French officers were refusing to stop migrants, with some admitting to letting boats sail to the UK.
The alarming response to the crisis prompted fury among Tory MPs, saying Paris alone cannot be trusted to stop the boats.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman, reacting to the Daily Express investigation, said the “Home Office will be in touch with their French counterparts” if there are reports of “officers not meeting the standards expected”.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “As the public would expect, we will look into any reports that a small minority of officers are falling short of the standards expected, on both sides.
“If there was any evidence provided of that we would of course expect rapid action.
“But in general terms we are working closely with our French counterparts, this year alone more than 15,000 migrants have been prevented from reaching the UK.”
Mr Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron agreed a three-year deal costing UK taxpayers around £480 million to beef up efforts to stop migrants making the dangerous crossing in small boats.
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But we revealed that off-duty officers were drinking late into the night, with one quoted as saying “we don’t stop the migrants, it’s not our job to stop them”.
More than 23,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far in 2023, including more than 3,000 in September.
Former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: “Brilliant report in the Express today.
“Taxpayers’ money is being wasted on French police who want the migrants out of their country. We’ve given Macron £800m in total for very little. People will be angry about this.”
Conservative MP Tom Hunt told the Daily Express: “We can’t look to the French to fully solve this problem for us. They have their own set of calculations. We need a deterrent led approach. The Rwanda scheme is that deterrent.
“We desperately need it to be introduced. Failing this, we need a plan B deterrent that could have a similar effect in deterring small boat arrivals.”
Tory MP Marco Longhi on Tuesday warned the conduct of the French police could amount to a “grave breach of trust”.
Former Culture Secretary Karen Bradley yesterday warned of a “seemingly insatiable demand from those seeking a better life and determined criminals who do not care about the safety of those that they “sell” that path to.”
She added: “More policing of routes will result in smugglers looking to move the boats into longer crossings and attempts that will lead to further loss of life.
“We need to focus our attention on the measured steps we can take and work in partnership to stop this with the support of governments across Europe.
“As we look to tighten up the controls, we need to look more towards the smugglers who are profiting from this crime.”
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Then hot weather has made it idea crossing conditions.
But the number of interceptions has fallen over the past year, despite Britain committing almost half a billion to the French to stem the flow of boats.
One officer from the Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS) admitted he let migrants leave French shores on dangerous small boats as “we cannot welcome all the misery in the world in France”.
He said: “We don’t stop the migrants, it’s not our job to stop them.
“A couple of days ago I let a family go that wanted to leave. They touched my heart.
“Before we are cops we are humans. When I see those migrant families I just want to let them be – I should not say that – but we cannot welcome all the misery in the world in France.”
Just hours after the Daily Express investigation was published, Police Nationale in Calais posted on social media site X to say “our goal remains the same: save lives”.
Officers claimed they prevented a crossing in Wimereux, bragging they “foiled a departure of migrant boats who, risking their lives, wanted to reach England by sea.”
But a spokesman for French interior minister Gerald Darmanin yesterday refused to comment on the conduct of the officers, stating they won’t discuss what they described as “unsubstantiated allegations”.
He said: “We do not comment.
“These are unsubstantiated allegations.”
Downing Street played down rumours the UK had reached a preliminary agreement with the EU’s external order agency Frontex.
Mr Sunak is said to want to announce “third country” status to the agency to bolster attempts to destroy people smuggling gangs trafficking hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe.
But Number 10 insisted the final details are still being thrashed out.
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The negotiations are ongoing. There’s been no text of an agreement agreed.
“We hope to achieve a deal that works for both us and our European neighbours, considering this is a European challenge.”
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