Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has come under fire for agreeing to hand over tens of millions of pounds to France to entice the country into taking tougher action against human smuggling networks.
The Home Office hopes that the lion’s share of the increased funding – to the tune of £51.4 million – will be used by the French to acquire better technology to target the complex smuggling networks organizing the Channel crossings.
The latest outreach to France comes on the heels of record numbers of crossings in recent days.
On Monday (July 19), at least 430 migrants crossed the English Channel in small boats, a record for one day.
On Tuesday (July 20), another 287 migrants landed on UK beaches, mostly on the Kent coast.
Overall, more than 8,461 migrants have successfully crossed the English Channel this year, more than the total number of people for the whole of 2020.
In trying to defend giving the French fresh funds to combat the problem at source, Patel told the Home Affairs Committee on Wednesday (July 21) that more money was needed to increase “beach patrols and capacity” to intercept boats in the English Channel.
But Patel somewhat undermined her argument by saying there has been a “complete change in modus operandi” in Channel crossings, with “more than 60 percent” of migrants now starting their journey from Belgium, as opposed to France.
"We've seen all sorts of changes and patterns in behavior", the Home Secretary told the Home Affairs Committee.
But the member of the French National Assembly for one of the Calais constituencies, Pierre-Henri Dumont, has dismissed the notion that increased funding would have a material impact on the smuggling networks as the French coastline is “too big”.
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Dumont said: "The fact is, we've seen it before. Having more money, having more police officers, having more controls, will not prevent people to succeed in these crossing attempts”.
"We have too many kilometers of shore to monitor", Dumont added.
Patel also came under fire closer to home as a fellow Tory MP cast grave doubt on the effectiveness of the various migrants-centered deals struck with France since last summer.
Tim Loughton, who represents the East Worthing and Shoreham constituency in the House of Commons, said that despite the extra 31.4 million Euros (£27.1 million) the UK gave France in 2020, “the French are not doing their part”.
In an apparently unintended pun, Loughton accused the Home Office of “throwing good money off the boat” at the taxpayer’s expense.
"We have a record number of boats that have come across the Channel and the number of interceptions has fallen by the French", Loughton claimed.
"We're giving the French more money to carry on doing what they're doing badly, it's ridiculous”, he added.