French riots led to an increase in small boats arriving in the UK, immigration minister tells LBC

9 August 2023, 08:02 | Updated: 9 August 2023, 09:14

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick speaks to LBC
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick speaks to LBC. Picture: Getty/Alamy/LBC
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

French riots led to an increase in small boats arriving in the UK, the immigration minister has told LBC.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Robert Jenrick said around 50 per cent of boats destined for the UK are stopped by French border force, though this figure "varies" depending on domestic issues.

That includes during recent French riots, sparked by the death of teenager, which pulled cops away from the coast - paid for by the UK - and led to an increase in crossings, Mr Jenrick claimed.

“A significant proportion of the boats are intercepted by the French police - it’s around 50 per cent. It varies," he said.

"There have been times where it’s been less. For example, when there were the recent disturbances in France that understandably drew resources away. There’s been times where it’s been higher than that."

Immigration Minister reveals French riots 'drew' police away from stopping Channel crossings

The UK's relationship with France has “improved and deepened measurably since Rishi Sunak became prime minister”, Mr Jenrick said.

The immigration minister referenced two new deals being struck between the UK and France, which aim to prevent small boat crossings.

One includes a £500 million package to increase security on the French border to prevent the crossings, though this can be affected by domestic issues in France.

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"We want to encourage our French counterparts to take more action but I think things have improved a great deal in recent months," he said.

"I wouldn’t say that that is the sole answer to the challenge because you can only fix this problem, ultimately, by acting on many different levels."

He continued: "Of course the French can do more and we are constantly urging them to do so because we believe it is in both country’s interests."

Riots in France in June
Riots in France in June. Picture: Alamy

Thousands of people were arrested in France during recent riots as violent clashes between police and protestors continued over the killing of a 17-year-old delivery driver.

There were several nights of violence in a row with looting now spreading from Paris to across the country, including in Lille in the north and Marseille in the south.

Some 40,000 officers have been deployed across France.Unrest erupted on Tuesday after a French policeman shot a teenage delivery driver in Paris.

He has since apologised and has since been charged with homicide and remains in custody.

The government has vowed to 'stop the boats'
The government has vowed to 'stop the boats'. Picture: Alamy

It comes as the UK announced it has a new agreement with Turkey to share intelligence on people smugglers to break up gangs and help slow the flow of illegal migration across the English Channel.

Ministers said the deal between London and Ankara would focus on co-ordinated actions to "disrupt and dismantle people smuggling gangs".

The Turkish National Police, with support from the UK, will build an operational "centre of excellence" to tackle organised immigration crime.

Other areas of focus include exchanging customs data, information and intelligence between UK and Turkish authorities, and working together to disrupt the supply chain of materials used by the gangs.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: "As I've made clear, we must do everything we can to smash the people smuggling gangs and stop the boats.

"Our partnership with Turkey, a close friend and ally, will enable our law enforcement agencies to work together on this international problem and tackle the small boat supply chain."