Boris Johnson has said that France must “do more” to curb migrant crossings through the English Channel after a boat capsized in the water killing 27 people.
The Prime Minister spoke after chairing a COBRA meeting on the situation, which saw a boat attempting to cross the English Channel from France to the UK sink, killing most of the people on board.
He said that the incident had left him “shocked, appalled and deeply saddened”, adding that France must work with Britain to “do more” to end the exploitation of migrants through human trafficking.
At a glance: 5 key points
- A boat, which left the French coast on Wednesday morning, was found capsized shortly after departing
- The boat was carrying around 34 people who were attempting to cross the English Channel to reach the UK, with the French Interior Minister describing the boat as “very frail” and like “a pool you blow up in your garden”
- It has since been confirmed that 31 of those who attempted to travel dies as a result of the boat sinking
- Boris Johnson has called on France to “do more” and work with Britain to end the exploitation of migrant trying to gain access to the UK with the help of human traffickers
- French President Emmanuel Macron has said that the country “will not let the Channel become a cemetery”
What did Boris Johnson say?
After reports of multiple fatalities as a result of the attempted crossing, the Prime Minister called an emergency COBRA meeting to discuss the event and moving forward.
Following this, Johnson called on France to work with the UK in tackling human traffickers who transport migrants across the Channel.
He said: “What this shows is that the gangs who are sending people to sea in these dangerous crafts will literally stop at nothing.
“But what I’m afraid it also shows is that the operation that is being conducted by our friends on the beaches, supported as you know with £54 million from the UK to help patrol the beaches, the technical support we’ve been giving, they haven’t been enough.
“Our offer is to increase our support but also to work together with our partners on the beaches concerned, on the launching grounds for these boats. That’s something I hope will be acceptable now in view of what has happened.”
Johnson also admitted that Britain and France had struggled to see eye-to-eye on how to handle the situation in the past, adding: “We’ve had difficulties persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves.
“I understand the difficulties that all countries face, but what we want now is to do more together – and that’s the offer we are making.”
What has been the reaction?
French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, refuted Johnson’s claims that France alone had not done enough and said that French authorities were keen to work with the UK to tackle the issue.
He said: “We have to work together. Sadly our differences with legislation sometimes mean there is a slight lack of co-operation.
“Ultimately it required a tough coordinated international response if they were to be effective.
“This can only be done if Belgium, Germany, Holland, the UK, work all together. Possibly we are not working together enough yet.
“We really must fight against these criminals just as we fight against terrorism.”
French President, Emmanuel Macron, echoed Darmanin’s words, adding: “France will not let the Channel become a cemetery.”
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