The French interior minister is due to visit Calais to investigate efforts to fight illegal immigration on the Channel – after Sky News captured dozens of migrants leaving the UK as armed police stood and watched.
Gerald Darmanin is expected to speak to police and address Francenor role in controlling the transition as tensions escalate in Britain.
Sky News footage shows dozens of migrants leaving beaches this week in inflatable boats, and even a canoe – embarking on a potentially dangerous journey unchallenged by French police officials.
The Home Office said they would increase Sky News’ coverage of its French counterparts – after the UK signed a £ 54m deal with France to increase patrols in July.
It described the record increase of migrants crossing into the UK over the Channel this year as “unacceptable”.
Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Tory Party Conference this week that France “is a safe country” and he would “return the boats”.
Yet many migrants successfully crossed the Channel on Saturday, with Border Force vessels taking them to safety in Dover and Dungeness in Kent.
Speaking to Sky News, Jonathan Portes, UK In a changing European economist, said: “I think clearly there has been a deterioration in UK France’s relationship with this score, as well as with many others in many fronts, if that ranges from the submarine deal with Australia to issues with French fishermen complaining about being shut out of their historic fishing waters near the Channel Islands.
“It is difficult to know whether this is just an isolated incident or whether it reflects the wider deterioration of relations with France by the UK. Now, to the extent that this is the latter, it is clearly very bad for the UK and for France. “
A busy weekend of migrant migrations is expected in Dover, Kent, due to good weather conditions.
“The clouds are rising, the sun is coming out and the water is incredibly calm at the moment, making the dangerous journey pretty easy to do,” Sky News reporter Aisha Zahid said, reporting from in Dover.
“But the calm water is deceptive, still an incredibly tricky trip down the busiest shipping lane in the world. And if people get upset while trying to cross, it can end up in danger very quickly.”
He continued: “This year has been a record year for migrant migrations – and it will be a particular concern for the government.
“Priti Patel gave the French authorities £ 54m in the summer to double the patrol but there has been criticism that the French authorities are not doing enough”.
How many crossings have there been, has there been an attempt on Priti Patel to change UK policy and what is France doing? Report by Samuel Osborne
More than 17,000 migrants have successfully arrived in the UK since the year began. That is double the figure for 2020.
More than 25,000 people have been at risk of death crossing the English Channel on board dinghies, kayaks and other small boats since last year, according to PA news agency data.
Home Secretary Priti Patel delivered a new Nationality and Border Bill in July, which he said would help cut the number of crossings.
If passed, the bill would increase prison sentences for people entering the UK illegally.
It will also consider whether someone has come to the UK legally or illegally to potentially grant them asylum.
It is understood the home secretary asked the Border Force to abandon some migrant vessels from British waters to France.
France has repeatedly refused to intercept or withdraw migrant boats.
Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said French police were not making any attempt to prevent people from crossing the Channel.
He told Sky News: “They are doing nothing to challenge those coming to France at the point of entry. The EU is doing nothing to prevent them from entering.
“They come from a safe country [France] and that country does nothing to help them stay in that country. “
On Saturday morning, a pair of Border Force vessels appeared on the Channel. They focus on getting safety to any migrants they come across.
French police got a number of reasons why they did not interfere with the moving crossings.
Sky News’ Europe reporter Adam Parsons said officials in Sangatte, Calais, told him they felt the number of migrants, as one boat was carrying nearly 80 people, while another was said it was “more complicated” if children were involved.
Police also said that when a boat is launched into the water it is subject to the law of the sea, so they cannot interfere.
Tensions between the UK and France continued to rise this week afterwards French fishermen threatened to block the port of Calais and cut Christmas supplies to a fishing row after Brexit.
They claimed they had been “fooled” by the British government about fishing license applications and called on the European Commission to take “retaliatory measures”.
And France has it again threatened to cut off the UK from energy supplies if the terms of the Brexit deal are not stuck with.
The country’s European minister, Clement Beaune, said the agreement should be “fully implemented” and – if it should not – then “we will take European or national steps to put pressure on the UK” .