The five steps include joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches and immediate work on a bilateral returns agreement with France
Boris Johnson has written to the French president to set out five steps to prevent Channel crossings and avoid a repeat of the tragedy that has claimed at least 27 lives.
Among the demands he makes are joint patrols and an Anglo French readmissions agreement that would see all those crossing the channel sent back.
The five steps are – joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches; deploying more advanced technology, like sensors and radar; reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters and airborne surveillance; deepening the work of our Joint Intelligence Cell with better real-time intelligence-sharing to deliver more arrests and prosecutions on both sides of the Channel; and immediate work on a bilateral returns agreement with France, alongside talks to establish a UK-EU returns agreement.
Mr Johnson told Emmanuel Macron: “If those who reach this country were swiftly returned the incentive for people to put their lives in the hands of traffickers would be significantly reduced.
“This would be the single biggest step we could take together to reduce the draw to Northern France and break the business model of criminal gangs.
“I am confident that by taking these steps and building on our existing cooperation we can address illegal migration and prevent more families from experiencing the devastating loss we saw yesterday.”
Seventeen men, seven women and three teenagers died on Wednesday when their dinghy deflated in the Channel, one of many such risky journeys attempted in small, overloaded boats by people fleeing poverty and war in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.
Ronald Gorsic/HM CROPIX/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock)
The deaths deepened animosity between Britain and France, already at odds over Brexit.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said France was at fault and French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin accused Britain of “bad immigration management”.
With relations fraught, much of the focus on Thursday was on culpability, even if both sides vowed to seek joint solutions.
President Emmanuel Macron defended Paris’s actions but said France was merely a transit country for many migrants and more European cooperation was needed to tackle illegal immigration.
“I will … say very clearly that our security forces are mobilised day and night,” Macron said during a visit to the Croatian capital Zagreb, promising “maximum mobilisation” of French forces, with reservists and drones watching the coast.
“But above all, we need to seriously strengthen cooperation … with Belgium, the Netherlands, Britain and the European Commission.”