Priti Patel threatens to withhold millions from France over record migrant numbers

7 September 2021, 06:45 | Updated: 7 September 2021, 10:24

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent, after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent, after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel. Picture: Alamy
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Priti Patel has threatened to withhold £54m promised to France for stopping migrant Crossings as a record number hit the shores in a day, according to reports.

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The Home Secretary called a meeting with Conservative MPs on Monday to discuss the Government’s options.

The Times newspaper reported Patel blamed the French and said she was prepared to pull the funding promised less than two months ago if they failed to stop three in four crossings by the end of this month.

According to The Sun she said: “We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far and France is going to have to get its act together if it wants to see the cash.

Read more: Boris Johnson urges France to 'stiffen their sinews' to stop migrant crossings

“It’s payment by results and we’ve not seen those results. The money is conditional.”

Her words come as the Home Office is yet to confirm the exact number of crossings on Monday, but it is understood that it has broken record numbers.

Sunday was the first time in more than two weeks there have been small boat crossings of the Channel because of prior bad weather, with 158 people, including five children, arriving in Dover from four boats.

Watch: 'UK is not being invaded by migrants', charity boss says after record number of crossings

Those arrivals brought the total number of people who have crossed to the UK aboard small boats this year to more than 12,500 before Monday’s landings, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

It comes as witness reports suggested at least 1,000 migrants had attempted to cross the UK channel on Monday, according to Sky News.

It was thought to be the highest daily number since 21 August.

Watch: Iain Dale's fiery clash with Green Party's Sian Berry over Channel migrants arriving in UK

Dan O'Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said: "This unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and a surge in illegal migration across Europe.

"We’re determined to target the criminals at every level, so far, we have secured nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions and prevented more than 10,000 migrant attempts.

"But there is more to do. The Government’s New Plan for Immigration is the only credible way to fix the broken asylum system, breaking the business model of criminal gangs and welcoming people through safe and legal routes."

The Home Office warned that the estimated figures had not been confirmed and that boats would go through checks before accurate details were announced.