Nick Ferrari put Kevin Foster on the spot following the death of 27 people in the English Channel during a failed attempt to reach the UK via boat. Mr Foster defended the Government and said it was working closely with French authorities and other governments to resettle asylum seekers closer to their place of origin. But an angry Mr Ferrari wanted to know what has happened to the nearly £200million already given to France to halt the crossings as 2021 sees record amounts of illegal immigrants travelling across the Channel.
Speaking on LBC, Mr Foster fielded questions from broadcasters during a media round following the deaths in the Channel.
In previous interviews, Mr Foster defended the Government and said it had carried out resettlement schemes closer to the regions of humanitarian crisis.
But Mr Ferrari wanted to know how much the UK has sent over to France to deal with the Channel crossings over the past six years.
Mr Foster was unable to come up with the figure as he said it would depend on a variety of factors.
Mr Ferrari said £196million has been sent to France and bluntly asked: “What have we got for that?”
Mr Foster replied: “Well, as I touched on that, the French prevented 20,000 crossings this year.
“We’ve seen arrests, we’ve worked together on breaking organised criminal grounds, but we want to do more, we want to go further.
“And, for example, we do want to look at having returns agreements that fundamentally break the business model of the people traffickers.”
En Marche politician Bruno Bonnell appeared on UK media on Thursday to give a French perspective and explained France was doing all it could to address the issue.
He told Sky News that France had made around 1,500 arrests on people smugglers and said the UK and French Governments should stop pointing the finger at each other.
France has made several arrests and does stop some migrant boats from leaving their shores but 2021’s crossing total is more than triple the year before.
Figures show 886 people reached the UK by crossing the Channel last Saturday which brings the year’s running total to around 25,600 confirmed crossings.
The total number of crossings in 2020 was 8,417, according to Home Office figures.
French authorities have banned the sale of dinghies in some French towns but traffickers simply import them in and get them delivered to safe houses.
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It is believed the boat that sunk and led to the death of 27 people was from Germany.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has previously threatened to withhold cash from France if they do not ramp up their efforts
Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said: ‘We will not be answering to blackmail. Quite simply if the money is pulled then the resources will drop and the migrants will increase.’
Mr Dumont also told BBC News he did not think the UK sending personnel to the French border would help the situation.
He explained the 200+ mile northern coast was far too big to be monitored by patrols and called for different methods to crack down on crossings.
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