Politics

‘A nonsense!’ Migrant think tank boss claims France should halt crossings without UK cash

'Nonsense' to be paying France for migration prevention methods

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Chair of MigrationWatch Alp Mehmet spoke to Express.co.uk about the refugee Channel crossings from France and was angry the UK was funding the country to carry out processes that should already be followed. The former diplomat claimed criticisms of the UK turning back boats as being “illegal” was also “nonsense” because the method is followed in the European Union between Greece and Turkey. Mr Mehmet concluded France were helping escorting boats across the Channel and the UK should not be giving them money for them to simply ignore the issue.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Mr Mehmet was asked whether it was right for Home Secretary Priti Patel to threaten to withhold £54million if France does not ramp up its migration duties.

He explained: “Firstly, I think that it’s really a nonsense, personally, it’s a nonsense to be paying France to do things that they should be doing anyway.

“Secondly, the EU is already doing exactly what we are proposing should happen between Greece and Turkey, they’re turning boats back.

“Well, Greece, frankly, is a member of Schengen, France is also a member of Schengen.

“To all intents and purposes, when you admit people or reject people at the border of the Schengen member state you’re effectively doing it on behalf of all the countries that are members, including France.

“So I think it’s a nonsense to suggest that [turning back boats] is illegal and it can’t be done, it can and it is being done.”

Priti Patel is under pressure to crack down on boats crossing the Channel and has threatened France with withholding cash so they can fulfil their end of a migration pact.

The UK Government gives money to France to prevent boats from leaving their northern beaches and enter the UK but footage has shown many boats simply escort them to British waters.

English Channel: Border Force staff take part in exercises

French internal minister Gerald Darmanin called the decision to withhold cash “blackmail” and said France would not be bullied by such a measure.

Ms Patel has also backed pushback tactics, like what is used in Australia, to forcibly turn back boats towards France.

Footage emerged earlier this month which appeared to show Border Force practising their methods.

The footage showed Border Force staff on jet skis where they used their propulsion to push boats away from land.

If implemented, the tactic would only be used on sturdier and larger boats for fear smaller boats could capsise.

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But critics warn the pushback tactics would force desperate migrants to choose smaller and more dangerous boats because they know they will not be targetted.

Mr Mehmet was concerned about the tactics and said while he wanted to see tougher rules on illegal immigration he did not want to see anyone dying.

Hungary announced it has shut its doors completely to Afghan refugees with the country bolstering its border defences and rules.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz met Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic with the leaders agreeing the refugee problem should be fixed at the source, urging Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries to step up.

Mr Vucic said Serbia would not be the “parking lot” for migrants waiting and planning to move further into Europe as countries begin to bolster their border security.

More migrants have crossed the Channel in small boats so far in September than in any other month since the crisis began, reports the BBC.

The figure now stands at 3,879 migrants who have made the crossing this month.

The yearly total is 16,312 when compared to over 8,400 in 2020.

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