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Illegal migrants to UK: Sunak, Macron strike a deal?

A CRITIQUE: UK's new Prime Minister wants to hit the ground running, or so he thinks he should appear to be. Therefore he was quick to take up the nagging problem of illegal migration across the Channel, a problem as old as history. And, Lo! In a cinematic style of 'Gandhigiri', he offered £ 80 million to France (and not war!) to check illegal migration into the UK!

  • On the other hand, intolerant to illegal migration and true to her Asian streak, Home Minister Suella Braverman, and some other Tories, want to export the migrants to Rwanda or prosecute them.
  • In between, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has pleaded for balancing "our values" and "common sense" about preventing illegal migration.
  • And, as it happens, the British sensibilities is forcing the Government to handle the migrants with kid gloves, spending £7m a day on hotels to take care of these unwelcome 'guests' even as a large number of Britons are deprived of food and shelter.

SHARM el-SHEIKH (Egypt), Nov 10: Following a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the COP27 climate summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said talks on illegal migration across the Channel, the world's busiest shipping lane, were in the final stages and a deal is underway.

As per the deal being finalised, UK Border Force officials will be deployed in France to help check illegal migration, Daily Mail revealed. However, this arrangement has been in place for the 20 years but did not work. The UK will also give France around £ 80 million towards anti-dinghy patrols. The money will raise the number of beach checks from the current 800 a day.

However, Sunak admitted it is a "complex issue and it's not one simple solution that's going to solve it overnight". He said he had also been talking to other European leaders.

Boris Johnson's Government too had been close to making an agreement.

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told the House of Commons after the Sunak-Macron talks that the Manston overcrowding in unhygienic circumstances is over as 2,000 people have been moved to other accommodation. There were 4,000 migrants at Manston, despite the centre being designed to accommodate only 1,600 people on a temporary basis.

Meanwhile, the Elysee Palace said the two countries will "advance co-ordination to face the challenge of irregular migration".

But observers in London said they are sceptical.

It has been officially stated that the UK spends £7m a day on hotels for asylum seekers. Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said it is "not sustainable for the country to be spending billions of pounds a year on hotels".

On October 29, 1,000 illegal migrants crossed the Channel in 24 small boats and landed at Dover. Last month a total of 6,000 people crossed over. Nearly 40,000 have arrived in the UK this year so far, undertaking the hazardous trip. While 28,500 came in the whole of 2021.

Earlier, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she wanted to use the scheme of sending migrants to Rwanda, apart from the Nationality and Borders Bill to prosecute them. The Strasbourg court had blocked the scheme to send illegal asylum seekers to Rwanda. It was claimed that this would deter illegal migration.

Last week, the Border Force immigration centre in the southern English port of Dover was attacked with petrol bombs. The migrant issue became hot topic last week over report of overcrowding at the Manston processing centre in Kent.

Lee Anderson, a Tory MP, alleged that housing was being provided to illegal migrants while the citizens are not getting council housing. "Send them straight back the same day," he said.

However, Jenrick said the Government "should be guided by both our common desire for decency because those are our values, but also hard-headed common sense".

History of migration

Migration from France to Britain has been going for centuries for reasons like oppression, historical links between the two and socio-economic deprivation. People were also looking for jobs while Britain wanted workers. There was also a period of dual monarchy when Henry VI, son of Henry V, became king of both England and France, in the 15th century, that encouraged migration. Among the earliest settlers were Anglo-Saxons and later the Normans.

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