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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Dave Burke

UK to pay £480m to France for new migrant detention centre and patrols

The UK will help fund a detention centre for asylum seekers in France for the first time, it has been announced.

Rishi Sunak has agreed to pay £480 million over the next three years for beefed up measures to stop Channel crossings following talks with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Sunak told a press conference that a summit between the two nations - the first in five years - was a "new beginning" in the relationship.

But there was no sign of the returns agreement with France that the Government desperately wants. Mr Macron said the UK need to negotiate this with the EU.

Today's deal will also more than double the number of personnel deployed in northern France to tackle small boats - but only half of these will be in place by the end of the year.

Labour has said that the summit will be a "failure" if the government fails to secure a return deal, allowing the UK to deport asylum seekers who arrive illegally.

Mr Sunak was under pressure to negotiate a return agreement with France (Kin Cheung/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

Mr Sunak said: “We don’t need to manage this problem, we need to break it. And today, we have gone further than ever before to put an end to this disgusting trade in human life."

He said the agreement will include a new command centre, bringing UK and French teams together, a further 500 officers patrolling French beaches, and more drones and "surveillance technologies".

The UK government said France has agreed "significantly more funding", but did not immediately release the figures.

The UK has already committed more than £300 million to France in the last decade to help tackle unauthorised migration.

More than 3,000 people have already made the perilous sea journey this year, with almost 46,000 arriving by unofficial routes in 2022.

That is despite Mr Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman announcing a £63 million package to increase patrol officers by 40% four months ago. That package followed a £55 million deal in 2021.

Rishi Sunak has met French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris today (Liewig Christian/ABACA/REX/Shutterstock)

French President Emmanuel Macron said the UK must negotiate its desired migrant return agreement with the EU rather than France.

He said: "This is not an agreement between the UK and France, but an agreement between the UK and the EU. Because the Dublin agreement are no more in a situation to be implemented so this is something now to be negotiated."

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said ahead of the talks: "Rishi Sunak will have failed if he comes back from the summit without a new returns agreement and new joint arrangements to prevent dangerous boat crossings.

“The Prime Minister’s new Bill is a con which won’t deliver all the things he claims and will make problems worse.

"We need a proper plan on cracking down on the criminal smuggling gangs, clearing the backlog and fast tracking cases to end inappropriate hotel use, as well as proper returns agreements, family reunion and reformed resettlement arrangements to prevent dangerous crossings."

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