UK will help fund new detention centre in France as part of £479 million deal to stop Channel migrant crossings

10 March 2023, 11:01 | Updated: 11 March 2023, 01:39

Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron have agreed a deal to help block migrant crossings
Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron have agreed a deal to help block migrant crossings. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

The UK has agreed to pay £479 million to France to help block migrant crossings across the English Channel.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Mr Sunak and Mr Macron announced the deal at a press conference in France on Friday afternoon.

Among the details of the new three-year deal, the UK will help fund a detention centre in France to help manage the people trying to cross the Channel, the British government said on Friday. The government said that "the French will contribute significantly more funding".

The deal will also help fund enhanced technology to patrol beaches, including drones, aircraft, surveillance technology.

The money will also pay for hundreds of extra French police officers monitoring beaches to prevent the people smugglers even launching the boats.

The €541 million (£479 million) deal breaks down as €141 million in 2023-24, €191 million in 2024-25 and €209 million in 2025-6.

Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron announced the deal on Friday
Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron announced the deal on Friday. Picture: Getty

But Mr Macron said unequivocally that migrants who had reached the UK would not be returned to France.

The deal, representing an average of £159 million per year, is a big increase on the amount the UK was expecting to pay to France to help manage the migrant crossings. The government had said it was expecting to pay about £64 million this financial year.

French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak said: "I have made it one of my five priorities to stop the boats. We are delivering on that priority to stop people coming to the UK illegally.

"Last year I agreed the largest ever small boats deal with France to increase UK-funded patrols by 40%. This week I announced measures to ensure nobody who enters the UK illegally can remain here.

"We don't need to manage this problem, we need to break it. And today, we have gone further than ever before to put an end to this disgusting trade in human life. Working together, the UK and France will ensure that nobody can exploit our systems with impunity."

Rishi Sunak on Friday
Rishi Sunak on Friday. Picture: Getty

It comes after the UK Prime Minister travelled to France on Friday with some Cabinet members to finalise the deal to help cut off at source the human trafficking gangs dangerously smuggling migrants across in small boats over the English Channel

Mr Macron hailed the meeting as a "new beginning" in diplomatic relations between the UK and France. "We want to work together and build concrete solutions for our future".

Rishi Sunak has met with Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris

Mr Sunak and French president Mr Macron were pictured smiling as they shook hands and embraced outside the Elysee Palace in Paris ahead of a meeting at 10am. The war in Ukraine and energy security were also on the agenda.

They met with British and French business leaders afterwards.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Transport Secretary Mark Harper, Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey, Energy Security Secretary Grant Shapps and Investment Minister Dominic Johnson have also been in Paris to meet their French counterparts.

Rishi Sunak with Mr Macron
Rishi Sunak with Mr Macron. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak said ahead of the meeting: “Our deep history, our proximity and our shared global outlook mean that a firm partnership between the UK and France is not just valuable, it is essential.

“From tackling the scourge of illegal migration to driving investment in one another’s economies the work we do together improves the lives of each and every person in our countries.“

'As we face new and unprecedented threats, it is vital that we fortify the structures of our alliance so we are ready to take on the challenges of the future."

Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron going into the Elysee Palace
Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron going into the Elysee Palace. Picture: Getty

It comes after the Home Secretary Suella Braverman confirmed in the House of Commons this week the government's new bill, which will see people who arrive in the UK illegally removed "in weeks" and receive a lifetime ban on claiming asylum.

The government's proposed asylum policy sparked a furious backlash among those across the political spectrum, including former footballer and TV host Gary Lineker.

The Match of the Day presenter sparked a storm by comparing the government’s new policy on migrants to language used in 1930s Germany.

But Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told LBC that the UK's "generosity" to people arriving from around the world was "not going to change".

James Cleverly tells Nick Ferrari that the UK's migration laws are no longer 'fit for purpose'

He said: "The ethnic diversity at the top of the UK government is the direct result of generations of hospitality and generosity by the British people to others around the world and that is not going to change.

"But we have to understand that all countries need to defend and protect their borders

"That is one of the first jobs of government and what we have seen is that the legal framework we have been operating in is no longer fit for purpose.

"We look at the massive increase in the scale of challenge - and that is why we are putting forward these pragmatic and humane and legal methods to address those issues.

Mr Sunak has earlier said he was "up for the fight" and these "tough measures" were the only way to tackle the migrant crisis and to stop unsafe boats crossing the Channel.

"All I can say is that we have tried it every other way and it has not worked," he said.

"So I say again: my policy is very simple, it is this country—and your government—who should decide who comes here, not criminal gangs."

Migrants trying to board a small boat to cross the English Channel
Migrants trying to board a small boat to cross the English Channel. Picture: Getty

Essentially, the new law, also nicknamed 'Stop the Boats' wants to end illegal entry, especially via boats, as a route to asylum in the UK.The main points of the new bill are:

  • People who arrive in the UK illegally will be detained and removed within weeks of arrival. If safe, they will go back to their home country, if not, they will go to a safe third country.
  • Under 18's who arrive unaccompanied and illegally will remain in the UK until adulthood and will then be removed to a safe third country. Limited circumstances could change this.
  • Asylum seekers who enter the UK illegally will not only be removed, but also face a permanent ban from returning.
  • Any asylum claims from those who travel to the UK illegally will be deemed inadmissible and reconsidered in a third country.
  • Any legal claims that can prevent someone being removed from the UK will be limited.
  • Modern slavery claims for those travelling illegally will be disqualified.
  • There will be an annual cap on the number of refugees entering via safe routes.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Italy G7 Foreign Ministers

Israel ‘gave US last-minute warning about drone attack on Iran’

Pictures of the Week Global Photo Gallery

Iran fires air defence batteries at two sites after drones spotted

Building on fire

Ukraine claims it shot down Russian bomber as Moscow’s missiles kill eight

Signs twinning Bournemouth with Israeli city mysteriously vanish as police probe apparent hate crime

Signs twinning Bournemouth with Israeli city mysteriously vanish as police probe apparent hate crime

Antonio Tajani

G7 foreign ministers warns of new sanctions on Iran and urge de-escalation

Boris Johnson breached rules for former ministers, watchdog rules

Boris Johnson breached government rules by being ‘evasive’ about links to hedge fund

The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology has 31 tracks

The hidden meaning behind tracks on Taylor Swift's new album as superstar blasts exes Joe Alwyn and Matty Healy

Passengers on London's transport network should be thrown off if they play music out loud, Susan Hall says

People who play music out loud on London transport ‘to be thrown off’ says Tory Susan Hall as mayoral race hots up

Google HQ

Japanese doctors demand damages from Google over ‘groundless’ reviews

EU proposes a deal on free movement for young people

Brussels offers the UK a free movement deal that would give young Britons the right to live in the EU

‘Not fair on taxpayers’: PM to unleash ‘sick-note squads’ as he tells Brits ‘you don’t get anything in life without hard work’

PM to unleash ‘sick-note squads’ as he tells Brits ‘you don’t get anything in life without hard work’

Air defences

Russia pummels exhausted Ukrainian forces ahead of springtime advance

Leonid Volkov

Two suspects held in Poland after attack on Navalny ally in Lithuania

Former President Donald Trump during jury selection at Manhattan criminal court

From a man who meditates every morning to a corporate lawyer: The 12 jurors who will decide Donald Trump's fate

There are fears the traditional fry-up is dying out because young people think it's too fatty

Gen Z shun the ‘greasy and high-calorie’ classic fry-up with one in ten never eating the famous dish

Taylor Swift performing during the Eras Tour

Taylor Swift reveals surprise 2am double album drop with record packed with secret messages and attacks on her exes