Channel migrants crossing – latest: France urged to accept UK patrol offer as Patel admits ‘no quick fix’

Patel ‘not achieving anything’ on Channel crossings, says Starmer

Boris Johnson’s government is putting pressure on France to accept its offer of combined UK-French police and border force patrols across the Channel, to prevent another incident such as the capsizing of an inflatable migrant boat last night, which killed 27 people – 17 men, 7 women, two teenage boys and a girl.

After the PM made the offer to French president Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday, home secretary Priti Patel appeared in the Commons to insist she had “once again reached out” and made a “very clear offer” to her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, of combined efforts across the coast to “prevent these dangerous journeys from taking place”.

France previously declined such a move, citing sovereignty concerns, but Mr Macron today asked for Britain’s “help” to curb the number of people trying to make these perilous journeys.

Ms Patel told MPs there is “no quick fix” to solve the migrant crisis, and called on Britain’s “international partners” to engage in a “coordinated effort” to crack down on criminal gangs. It was put to the Tory minister, by various Labour members, that her unworkable border controls were to blame for increased small boat crossings, not just smugglers.

Follow our live coverage below


Vigils to be held in France for 27 people killed on boat

Vigils will be held across parts of France on Thursday night, honouring the lives of the 27 people who died trying to cross the Channel to Britain on Wednesday night when their boat sank.

Zoe Tidman, reporting from Calais, says churches in northern towns are being encouraged to ring out their bells to coincide with the Calais remembrance gathering at 6.30pm.

Other participating regions include Dunkirk – where the boat left from – at 6pm and Paris’ Place de la Republique at 8pm.

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 16:10


Reverend issues reminder migrants ‘are not the criminals’

A reverend has made it clear migrants, refugees and asylum seekers should not be viewed as criminals – insisting it is displaced people who have been taken advantage of by the “actual criminals”.

Reverend Dr Jonathan Arnold, director of communities at the Canterbury Diocese, says asylum seekers are often “dealing with absolutely desperate situations”.

He also said they have “have stories of fleeing from situations that would make us horrified”.

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 15:59


PM’s Channel remarks ‘disingenuous,’ says human rights lawyer

Let’s get some expert commentary on the Channel migrant tragedy.

Kingsley Napley partner Rebecca Niblock, who is a specialist in international criminal law and human rights, says:

“Boris Johnson’s suggestion that the tragic deaths in the Channel on Wednesday show the necessity of accelerating the measures within the Nationality and Borders Bill is a disingenuous claim.

“As my colleague Elspeth Guild and I have pointed out before, while international law imposes a duty to rescue persons in distress at sea, the nationality and borders bill seeks to provide immunity to those who fail to comply with their duties under international law.

“In practice it will protect Border officials engaged in pushing back boats in the Channel whose actions could result in deaths at sea. Rather than enacting these provisions, the government must provide safe routes for migrants seeking refuge in the UK.”

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 15:42


Opinion: ‘Using playground politics over Channel tragedy is senseless’

Some smart analysis from our political columnist Andrew Grice now.

The tragic loss of 27 lives in the Channel is a painful reminder of the failure of politicians on both sides of it. Although Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron have slightly softened their usual rhetoric, there is little sign of them finding the common solutions their countries need to prevent a repeat of the disaster.

The tragedy has not ended the pointless blame game over the small boats. Downing Street said the prime minister and French president agreed in their phone call last night on “stepping up joint efforts to prevent these deadly crossings”. But the Elysee Palace said Macron urged Johnson to stop “politicising” the crisis for “domestic gain”. In turn, UK sources accused Macron of “playing politics with people’s lives.”

Post-Brexit tensions are a barrier to co-operation. The UK would like to be able to return migrants to the EU, as it could – on paper, at least – while it was a member of the bloc. It raised the idea in the Brexit negotiations but there were no takers on the EU side. Macron has accused the UK government of swinging between “partnership and provocation.” UK ministers cite a leaked letter from Jean Castex, the French prime minister, suggesting the EU must make clear that “leaving the union is more damaging than remaining in it”.

Read his thinking in full:

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 15:39


Watch: Patel ‘not achieving anything’ on Channel crossings, says Starmer

Patel ‘not achieving anything’ on Channel crossings, says Starmer

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 15:33


‘Sombre’ mood in Calais where people share stories of hopes to reach UK

Our reporter Zoe Tidman reports from Calais, where she is helping a charity hand out food and drinks to people there.

One worker told The Independent the mood was “sombre”.

There are a lot migrants from Sudan here, amid reports about the nationalities of the 27 killed last night.

One man said he has been trying to settle in Europe for seven years, and has already been to Sweden and Germany but was rejected. He added he wanted to go to the UK now “because I’ve got nowhere else to go.

Another person said they wanted to go to England “because everything is good in England”.

Meanwhile, one said he tried every day to cross over on a lorry. No luck yet, though.

Care4Calais volunteers help people in the area

(Zoe Tidman/The Independent)

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 15:23


Watch: Macron calls for ‘extra help’ from UK on Channel crossings

Emmanuel Macron calls for ‘extra help’ from UK on Channel crossings

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 14:56


How has Brexit affected the migrant crisis?

Dozens of people died on Wednesday making the perilous journey across the sea, following UK government attempts to make the crossings more difficult.

So far this year more than 25,700 people have managed to complete the perilous crossing. Of those, just five have been returned to Europe, ministers say.

What is less realised is that this is partly down to Britain’s departure from the European Union.

How does that work? Our policy correspondent Jon Stone takes a closer look.

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 14:54


Britain working tirelessly to fix UK’s ‘broken asylum system’ – Patel

Patel repeats again that the government is working “tirelessly” to “fix the UK’s broken asylum system”.

She says Britain can only fix these issues by “working with our international partners”.

The session is now over and MPs are leaving the chamber.

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 14:11


Corbyn goes after Patel for her ‘brutal treatment of desperate people’

Sam Hancock25 November 2021 14:08


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