Freshly installed in his post as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak emphasized the Franco-British understanding, especially regarding the aspect of illegal crossings of the Channel towards the English coast.
Britain’s new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, in their first phone call on Friday, agreed with French President Emmanuel Macron to cooperate more against illegal Channel crossings, according to the British Prime Minister’s spokesman.
Constantly increasing and at the heart of regular tensions between Paris and London, illegal crossings represent an influx of around 38,000 migrants since the start of 2022, a figure that is already a record.
“The Prime Minister stressed the importance for both countries of making the Channel route completely impassable to people smugglers. The leaders pledged to deepen their partnership to counter deadly Channel crossings that welcome organized criminals,” according to Downing Street.
On the part of the French Presidency, the exchange report does not mention this topic, the text simply states Emmanuel Macron’s “availability” to “deepen the bilateral relationship between France and the United Kingdom, in particular in the field of defence, strategic affairs and energy”.
The two countries have already agreed that the British government will financially help the French authorities to better monitor France’s coasts to prevent departures.
Sunak, tough on immigration
According to the British newspaper The Times, Rishi Sunak wants to go even further and wants to ratify a global agreement with quantified targets on intercepted boats and British border police officers patrolling France.
He also wants to set targets for 80% of asylum applications to be processed within six months against an average of 480 days, but also to tighten the conditions for granting asylum.
According to the British authorities, up to 80% of these new migrants are now Albanians. The UK asylum system is completely overwhelmed by this influx.
Rishi Sunak, himself the grandson of Indian immigrants, has taken a very hard line on immigration. He backs previous conservative governments’ controversial plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, which is still awaiting a court review.
The Prime Minister also appointed the ultra-conservative Suella Braverman to the Home Office, a move interpreted as a gesture against the right wing of the Conservative Party.