Boris Johnson calls on Emmanuel Macron to take back people who cross Channel to UK

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called on France to agree to “take back” people who cross the Channel to the UK.

The PM said he had written to French President Emmanuel Macron setting out five steps to “move further and faster” to avoid a repeat of Wednesday’s tragedy where 27 people died.

A returns agreement for those who cross the Channel would have an “immediate and significant impact”, he added.

Wednesday’s incident marked the biggest loss of life by drowning in the English Channel on record and included 17 men, seven women and three children.

Mr Johnson tweeted that the five steps he had set out were:

•joint patrols to prevent more boats from leaving French beaches
•deploying more advanced technology, like sensors and radar
•reciprocal maritime patrols in each other’s territorial waters and airborne surveillance
•deepening the work of the countries’ joint intelligence cell
•immediate work on a bilateral returns agreement with France, alongside talks to establish a UK-EU returns agreement

“An agreement with France to take back migrants who cross the Channel through this dangerous route would have an immediate and significant impact,” Mr Johnson said

On Thursday more people made the journey despite Wednesday’s deaths.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called an emergency meeting of European ministers to discuss how to stop the crossings.

He said France was going to ask for “extra help” from the British , adding that despite authorities telling migrants they were able to stay in France, they wanted to reach the UK.

The UK signed an agreement in July to pay France €62.7 million during 2021-22 to help secure the borders, but the number of people making the crossing has continued to rise.

Since the start of the year, 1,552 smugglers have been arrested in northern France and 44 smuggler networks dismantled, Mr Macron said.

Despite this, he said 47,000 attempted Channel crossings to the UK took place this year and 7,800 people were rescued.