Suella Braverman announces new Illegal Migration Bill
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Rishi Sunak has declared strong Anglo-French relations are “essential” to European security as he prepares to meet President Macron on Friday. The Prime Minister is the same day expected to announce new military agreements with Paris and a fresh clampdown on Channel migrants.
The British and French leaders are expected to announce they will jointly build “next-generation deep precision strike” artillery systems.
Downing Street believes these weapons are what “NATO needs to protect against the growing threat of Russia”.
The UK and France will also agree to coordinate the deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Prince of Wales and Charles de Gaulle aircraft carriers to the Indo-Pacific region.
Mr Sunak and Mr Macron are believed to want “like-minded European partners” to have a permanent presence in the region amid the growing threat of China.
The Daily Express on Thursday revealed Mr Sunak and Mr Macron will also secure a new agreement to put more “boots on the ground”.
It is expected to build on the agreement that saw the number of beach patrols increase by 40 percent. It comes amid a time when the number of migrants gathering in Northern France to cross to the UK is continuing to grow.
The willingness of the French to work with the UK to stop migrant crossings has intensified over the past two years after the horrors of the Channel tragedy in November 2021.
Officials are said to have been horrified by the sight of dead bodies being pulled from the water.
But Mr Macron is widely expected to reject British demands for a bilateral returns agreement.
This would see anyone caught in the Channel taken straight back to France. The French President wants the UK to secure a deal with the EU.
British officials want Rishi Sunak to push for Macron to a leadership role in the crisis and hold internal talks with other EU leaders on the need to strike a deal.
They are said to be frustrated by the French leader’s reluctance to negotiate a bespoke returns agreement with the UK.
French police have stopped 64 percent of crossings this year, preventing 3,000 people from reaching the UK. Officials believe the previous deal – struck in November – is already having a positive effect.
The Prime Minister said ahead of the Summit last night: “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.
“Beyond that, the UK and France also have a privileged role as defenders of European and global security.
“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. That is what we will do at the UK-France Summit on Friday.”
It comes as relations between London and Paris continue to thaw after several years of friction.
President Macron and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a tense relationship as the two nations clashed over Brexit and dealt with the fallout of Covid.
And ties between London and Paris fell even further when former Prime Minister Liz Truss said the jury is still out on whether President Macron is a “friend or foe”.
The gaffe led to the scrapping of a landmark migration deal that would have seen British border officers working alongside their French counterparts.
The Windsor Framework agreement between the UK and the EU is seen as a sign of growing positive diplomatic ties between London and the rest of the Continent.
Britain wants to go further on clamping down on people smuggling gangs wreaking havoc in Northern France.
The French are concerned Britain is too “attractive” to illegal migrants.
But Mr Macron is expected to reject British pleas for a bespoke returns agreement – something many believe would be the deterrent required to prevent migrants attempting the crossing as they know they would not be able to reach the UK.
He instead wants the UK to strike a deal with the EU.
Mr Sunak was expected to push for Mr Macron to lead the EU on talks about a returns agreement between the UK and the bloc. Diplomats are increasingly accepting that illegal migration is becoming a European-wide and global issue.
But the two Governments are set to agree to boost the number of patrols in a bid to prevent more crossings. This could UK taxpayers millions.
Speaking ahead of the Anglo-French summit taking place this weekend, an Elysée source said: “We’re trying to agree with our British counterparts a multi-annual financing framework that would allow us to better plan our actions and increase our human resources, equipment and infrastructure.”
Another French official defended France’s response to the issue so far, saying: “We already have a lot of boots on the ground. Being effective in our response necessitates much more than more police on the beaches of Pas-de-Calais.”
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