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Threat to withhold £54m from France as ‘hundreds more cross Channel’

Witnesses said emergency services appeared to be stretched on Monday as hundreds made the crossing (Picture: PA)

Priti Patel has threatened to withhold millions from French border security after hundreds successfully crossed the Channel yesterday.

People smugglers took advantage of the good weather to send several packed boats towards the south coast.

A woman clutching a baby and small children were among those pictured in Kent as crossings are ramped up before conditions become too difficult in autumn.

The Home Office is yet to confirm how many made the illegal journey yesterday but it’s believed to be in the high hundreds.

In July, the UK government pledged £54 million to help bolster security efforts on the French mainland, on top of more than £30 million last year.

But according to The Times, the home secretary briefed MPs the funding could be withheld because British officials are furious with the lack of progress.

She reportedly said: ‘We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far and France is going to have to get its act together if it wants to see the cash. 

A group of people thought to be migrants are escorted along the beach after arriving in a small boat at Dungeness in Kent.

The Home Office is yet to confirm how many people landed on Monday but it’s thought to be several hundred (Picture: PA)
The RNLI was called out to rescue people crammed into tiny inflatable crafts (Picture: PA)
People smugglers are taking advantage of the good weather to launch crossings before the weather turns (Picture: PA)

‘It’s payment by results and we’ve not yet seen those results. The money is conditional.’

Sunday saw the first small boat crossings in more than two weeks as the weather improved.

Boats carrying 158 people, including five children, arrived at Dover on four inflatable vessels.

Those arrivals brought the total number of people who have crossed to the UK this year to more than 12,500.

A new record of 828 people confirmed to have successfully made the journey was set on August 21.

Crossings in 2021 have already eclipsed last year’s annual total of 8,417 and that tally continues to rise on fair weather days.

Small children carried by their parents were among those pictured landing on the south coast (Picture: PA)
A woman carrying a baby was among hundreds who survived the perilous journey (Picture: PA)

Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

Speaking in parliament on Monday, Boris Johnson said ‘our friends across the Channel in France are faced with a very difficult problem’ but said French border security should ‘stiffen their sinuses’.

The Prime Minister added: ‘A large number of people want to come to this country, and we are doing everything we can to encourage the French to do the necessary and impede their passage.’

Dan O’Mahoney, an ex-Marine who was appointed to lead Channel security efforts last year, said: ‘This unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and a surge in illegal migration across Europe.’

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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