If Priti Patel withholds UK funds, the French general in charge of preventing migrants in the Channel has threatened to withdraw his troops.
General Frantz Tavart made an inflammatory statement, saying that if the Home Secretary follows through on her promise to withdraw UK taxpayer money, he will end evening patrols.
General Tavart told the BBC that the gendarmerie is currently conducting nighttime operations to apprehend illegals on the French coast, with 130 regulars and reservists working in the Calais area. “We know the British have threatened to cut their financial support,” he said.
Last month, Miss Patel indicated she would withhold a further £54 million until France halted more migrant boats.
“The proof of our efficiency is that smugglers are now trying to go from the Belgian coast, even the Somme,” General Tavart remarked.
“But that dilutes our resources across the territory. It’s like a game of chess where the smugglers always make the first move.”
Miss Patel agreed to give France an additional £54 million in July.
“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.”
“It’s payment by results, and we’ve not seen those results. The money is conditional.”
Following her comments and the revelation of a UK plan to turn boats around in the English Channel, France’s interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, stated that his country would not support “any practice contrary to maritime law, nor any financial blackmail.”
Since January, more than 17,000 migrants have crossed the Channel, compared to 8,410 in the entire previous year.
On Sunday alone, 669 people arrived.
“The French have stopped many thousands of crossings this year, 12,000 already,” claimed Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s covert Channel threat commander.
“The French know there is more to do, and so do we.”
“There is no point in our two countries having a public back-and-forth on a financial agreement,” a Home Office spokesman said.