UK asylum system is 'a draw' for migrants says expert
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The Home Secretary is looking at how to make sure the French have “everything they need” to bring down the number of people making the crossing “effectively”.
It comes as Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron agreed they must intensify work to make the small boat route “completely unviable”.
Government insiders said there is now a “strong alignment of political will” at senior levels on both sides of the Channel in a “positive” sign that advances can be made.
The UK previously agreed to give France £54 million to help reduce migrants trying to make it to England’s east coast.
Drones, intelligence sharing and operation support were all part of a deal to help support the French authorities to stop people traffickers launching unsafe boats into the sea.
Ms Braverman has gone back to the deal to look at building on it to secure better results. Sources said she is not trying to impose targets on France but look instead at “what is ideal and how you achieve that”.
Doubling the proportion of migrants stopped by French authorities before they enter the sea to more than 80 percent is being aimed for. Ms Braverman is said to have a good relationship with counterpart Gerald Darmanin, who she speaks to in French.
Both countries face political and practical difficulties in tackling the small boats crisis but “have a strong motivation to make this much better than it is”.
More than 38,400 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year, according to provisional Government figures. The number tops the total for last year when around 28,500 migrants were recorded making the journey.
Mr Sunak attempted to reset relations with France after tensions under his predecessors. In their first telephone call, the Prime Minister and French president yesterday agreed to “deepen” work to deal with the crisis.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister stressed the importance for both nations to make the Channel route completely unviable for people traffickers. The leaders committed to deepening our partnership to deter deadly journeys across the Channel that benefit organised criminals.”
The pair also agreed on a “huge range of areas” on which it is “vital” the countries work together, including Ukraine, climate, defence and the economy, Number 10 said.
The Prime Minister and President Macron will push ahead with plans agreed under Boris Johnson to hold a UK-France summit next year. MPs said the solution is in “French hands” but would require both nations to cooperate to reach an agreement.
Around 12,000 Albanians are among the migrants to have arrived on UK shores this year. Tim Loughton, a member of the Commons Home Affairs select committee, said that compares to just 50 two years ago and around 10,000 are single young men.
The Conservative MP said the appeals process means people who do not have a legitimate claim can “string it out for months” and “many of the Albanian economic migrants” are “playing the system”.
He said: “They are taking up places for people genuinely escaping danger who need our duty of care to help them be safe over here.”
Many Albanians heading to the UK are believed to be using modern slavery allegations as way to make a claim to stay in the country.
Mr Loughton said 28,000 migrants had been stopped leaving French shores but it could actually be a small group of the same migrants making repeated attempts to cross as they are not arrested at the time.
He said: “We need to have a serious commitment from the French and we need to have some serious discussions about how they stop those people and then they actually take them into custody to see whether they have got a legitimate claim to be in France and then deal with them accordingly.
“We will need to offer the French some concessions in return so that perhaps those people will be able to apply for asylum in the UK from French territory. The solution lies in French hands … but this is a shared problem and we need to find a shared solution.”
Whitehall sources dismissed the suggestion, warning it would make France an even more attractive destination for migrants trying to enter the UK illegally.
Nathalie Goulet is a member of the Senate of France,She is a member of the commission of Foreign Affairs and Defence Forces.
She told the BBC: “The UK is so attractive. So many people want to go and escape France, so maybe you have to be less attractive.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) recorded 308 people arriving in nine boats on Thursday, taking the number who have made the journey in October alone to over 5,400.
On Wednesday the scale of the crisis was laid bare by Home Office officials when they gave evidence to MPs.
The Commons Home Affairs Committee heard the Government is now spending almost £7million a day housing asylum seekers in hotels and the costs could continue to rise.
The MPs also learned the department has only processed four percent of asylum claims by migrants who crossed the Channel last year while officials admitted the interception rate made by French police of migrants attempting the journey has fallen.
Meanwhile an immigration watchdog told the committee he was left “speechless” by the conditions at the Manston migrant processing centre in Kent and warned the site had already passed the point of being unsafe.
The revelations prompted the Refugee Council to call for “urgent” action and asked to meet with ministers to discuss proposals for tackling the problems.
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