Priti Patel will travel to France to discuss plans to stop deadly Channel crossings

The Home Secretary is set to meet French interior minister Gerarld Darmanin in Paris as new Home Office figures show asylum claims in the UK have hit their highest level for nearly 20 years

Priti Patel is heading off to France to discuss plans to quell people making dangerous journeys across the English Channel.

The Home Secretary is travelling with Home Office officials and law enforcement officers to Paris on Friday “to intensify joint co-operation and intelligence-sharing”.

Ms Patel appears to have had a change of heart after she initially said it is mostly up to French officials to stop refugees crossing the Channel.

After 27 people were pronounced dead, Ms Patel told the Commons there is “no quick fix”.

Pierre-Henri Dumont, the MP for Calais, said he “will not change anything” along the vast shoreline.

And Labour MP Olivia Blake criticised Ms Patel for her plans to “turn back boats”.

But late on Thursday, Ms Patel discussed plans to work closely with the French interior minister, proposing plans of collaboration and innovation towards tackling the crisis.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin


AFP via Getty Images)

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said officials are “not doing enough” to diminish the “power” of people traffickers aiding migrants to embark on sea crossings to the UK.

He told the BBC ’s Political Thinking podcast: “To be honest, I’m sick of the Home Secretary playing to the headlines on this with grand statements about what she’s going to do, turning boats back and all the rest of it, but actually not achieving anything in relation to this issue.”

France said on it will bolster the surveillance of its northern shores, but does not think it will stop them from trying to cross the Channel to Britain.

But more people made the perilous journey across the Channel, a day after a dinghy capsized off the coast of Calais and 27 people lost their lives.

A group wearing life jackets and wrapped in blankets were seen huddled together on board an RNLI lifeboat before disembarking in Dover on Thursday morning.

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In an urgent statement to MPs, Ms Patel said: “What happened yesterday was a dreadful shock, it was not a surprise but it is also a reminder of how vulnerable people are put at peril when in the hands of criminal gangs.

“There is also no quick fix. This is about addressing long-term pull factors, smashing the criminal gangs that treat human beings as cargo and tackling supply chains.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was requesting “extra help” from the UK on Thursday as authorities revealed that pregnant women and children were among the at least 27 people who died when a dinghy capsized off the coast of Calais.

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