Politics

New row with France erupts as record 853 migrants make it to Britain in ONE day

A RECORD 853 migrants made it to Britain in small boats in a single day — triggering a huge new row with France.

The unwanted milestone came as Home Secretary Priti Patel handed over the first instalment of £54million for the French to stem the tide.

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Record 853 migrants made it to Britain in small boats in a single day, despite Priti Patel handing over to France the first instalment of £54millionCredit: LNP
Whitehall insiders accused Paris of 'diverting political resources' away from the fight against traffickers to the fishing row

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Whitehall insiders accused Paris of ‘diverting political resources’ away from the fight against traffickers to the fishing rowCredit: PA

Critics said it was shocking so many trip took place in November as Channel crossings become more dangerous.

Three migrants have died attempting to make it to the UK this week.

Government insiders claim that French officials are too busy arguing over Brexit fishing licences to stop small boats departing their coastline for England.

The Home Office yesterday confirmed 853 migrants arrived on Wednesday. Whitehall insiders accused Paris of “diverting political resources” away from the fight against traffickers to the fishing row.

A source said: “It means the French system isn’t as focused on this as it should be. They seem to have lost control of their own shoreline and they can’t provide rational explanations of what they are trying to do to stop it.

“It does seem now they are actively playing politics with people’s lives.”

‘TRULY SHOCKING’

Last week France backed down over threats to disrupt our trawlers and energy supplies. British scallop trawler Cornelis Gert Jan was detained for a week accused of fishing without a licence.

This week we started paying instalments of £54million to help stem the flow of small boats. French officials last month whined they hadn’t received cash.

The source added: “They moaned when we hadn’t sent it, and now we have sent some they still haven’t got the act together. They need to demonstrate how they are using it properly.”

The landings on Wednesday smashed the previous highest daily tally of 828 migrants on August 21 this year.

The new record means 21,051 have arrived so far in 2021 — dwarfing the 8,410 who made the treacherous trip last year.

Yesterday the Home Office also said French authorities prevented 975 migrants crossing between Tuesday and Thursday.

This is not just tragic, it is wholly avoidable if the French stepped up to the plate and stopped boats leaving in the first place.

MP Natalie Elphicke

Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke slammed the French for not doing more.

She said: “Month after month lives are being lost in the English Channel. This is not just tragic, it is wholly avoidable if the French stepped up to the plate and stopped boats leaving in the first place.

“Traffickers will continue to ply their disgusting trade while they are able to do so. It is the responsibility of all civilised countries to put a stop to it.”

There were no crossings on Thursday or yesterday as the weather worsened. On Wednesday the Isle of Inishmore ferry heading from Dover to Calais picked up 13 desperate migrants from a sinking boat. Ms Patel is under increasing pressure to get a grip on the crisis.

In 2019 she promised to make crossings an “infrequent phenomenon” by spring 2020 and then pledged in August last year to “make this route unviable”. Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “This is a catastrophic failure by the Home Secretary. There is no time to waste on yet more empty promises.”

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, which supports migrants, said: “These tragic deaths are truly shocking and should make the government urgently rethink its approach.”

Channel ferry picks up boat migrants

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Channel ferry picks up boat migrantsCredit: Alamy
Brit trawler is held in port of Le Havre

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Brit trawler is held in port of Le HavreCredit: Chris Eades
Migrants come ashore at Dungeness in Kent, escorted by border officials

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Migrants come ashore at Dungeness in Kent, escorted by border officialsCredit: LNP
Dozens of migrants filmed leaving France for the UK in broad daylight unchallenged by French police who watch and do nothing


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