Chris Philp, the immigration minister, told MPs that the increase in migrants crossing the English Channel is “alarming.”
Philp was speaking at a Home Affairs Committee meeting concerning channel crossings, migration and asylum-seeking routes through the EU.
A primary area of questioning from participating MPs was around the UK’s relationship with France in combatting illegal migrant channel crossings.
Philp claimed that, despite considerable financial contributions, the French are still not actively helping London by stopping migrant traffic in their waters.
The French operational posture on the water is that they don’t forcibly intercept migrant boats… They will rescue them if they start sinking and if migrants request assistance. But they do not currently forcibly intercept migrant boats while in French waters.
Philp revealed that the UK government had given France £192 million to tackle illegal immigration, including a further £28 million at the weekend.
The minister added that the French authorities had stepped up land activity “enormously in the last few months,” incepting 90 percent of crossings before the migrants got their dinghies into the water.
On Wednesday, the immigration minister refused to rule out plans to relocate migrants to far-flung islands or even decommissioned oil rigs, but said there are currently no plans to do so.
In September, reported government plans to send asylum seekers to the remote Atlantic British territory of Ascension Island and the Outer Hebrides caused uproar.
The government and particularly Home Secretary Priti Patel have come under fire for not reducing the number of migrants arriving on UK shores.
So far in 2020, around 8,500 migrants have landed in Britain, a huge increase from 1,850 in 2019.
Earlier in the year, Philp confirmed that the number of people in asylum accommodation had increased from 48,000 to 60,000 during the Covid pandemic.
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