“Shocked, revolted and deeply saddened” by the death of at least 27 migrants in the Channel, the British Prime Minister said he wanted to work with France on the issues of crossing the Channel.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Wednesday he was “shocked, revolted and deeply saddened” by the death of 27 migrants in the Channel, claiming to want to “do more” with France to discourage illegal crossings to England.
“We have had difficulty persuading some of our partners, especially the French, to act up to the situation, but I understand the difficulties all countries face,” he told Sky News after a crisis meeting in Downing Street. “What we want now is to do more together, that’s what we are proposing,” he added.
Deadliest drama since 2018
According to Emmanuel Macron and Gérald Darmanin, at least 31 migrants perished Wednesday in the sinking of their boat in the Channel, off Calais. A previous report reported 27 dead.
This tragedy is the deadliest since the soaring in 2018 of migratory crossings of the Channel, facing the increasing lockdown of the port of Calais and the Channel tunnel used until then by migrants trying to reach England.
These crossings are a subject of regular tension between Paris and London, the British authorities considering insufficient the efforts undertaken on the French side to prevent them from boarding despite the payment of financial aid.
“This disaster underlines how dangerous it is to cross the English Channel in this way. It also shows how vital it is to step up our efforts to break the business model of the gangsters who send people to sea in this way,” Boris Johnson said.
“I tell our partners across the Channel that the time has come for all of us to mobilize, to work together to do all we can to break these gangs,” he added.
Over 25,700 crossings to England since early 2021
Marking a toughening on immigration promised as part of Brexit, the British government has started to pass a controversial bill that reforms the asylum system and plans to toughen penalties, bringing to life in prison, against 14 years currently, the maximum penalty incurred by smugglers.
Presented by the Minister of the Interior Priti Patel as “fair but firm” but denounced by associations for the defense of human rights, it aims to discourage illegal immigration and plans to treat asylum seekers differently depending on whether they are arrived in the country legally or not.
According to figures compiled by the British news agency PA, more than 25,700 people have reached England in small boats since the start of the year, three times more than in all of 2020.