And French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has also sought to pin the blame on London by telling Boris Johnson Britain needs to make itself less “attractive” to people who lacked the necessary credentials. Mr Darmamin, speaking during a visit to the northern port of Dunkirk, said “migratory pressure” was returning after COVID,” stressing that France, led by President Emmanuel Macron, had increased its efforts to stop it.
French maritime authorities were now preventing 75 percent of migrant boats from crossing the 30-mile channel which separates England from France, Mr Darmamin stressed.
However, he said it would be possible to reach 100 percent if the UK paid the £54 million which was pledged at a meeting in July.
The money is intended to bankroll France’s plan to double the number of police patrolling French beaches.
Mr Darmanin told journalists: “For now, not one euro has been paid.
“We are asking the British to keep their promises of financing because we are holding the border for them.”
Mr Darmanin also said Britain needed to take steps to reduce its “attractiveness” to migrants, without explaining what he meant.
French authorities arrested 120 migrant traffickers and detained 4,000 people attempting to cross the Belgium-France border last month, twice the number arrested in August, he said.
Home Secretary Priti Patel has indicated her willingness to withhold the cash if France does not do more to prevent crossings.
Migrants have a long history of travelling to northern France in a bid to get to Britain, either stowing away on lorries bound for the UK, or travelling in flimsy dinghies and other small vessels in hazardous trips arranged by people-smugglers.
More than 17,000 people have already made the crossing this year, with one man dying in the attempt last month, according to the French authorities.
In the last two days alone, French authorities have rescued 130 migrants.
Human Rights Watch this week published a report condemning the treatment of migrants in the Calais area by French police, where it said they were subjected to “daily harassment and humiliation.”
Speaking on Sky News today, shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds urged Ms Patel to “come clean” over her strategy to tackle small boat crossings.
The Labour MP explained: “The Home Secretary needs to come clean because every single person risking their lives in that dangerous sea crossing of the English Channel is one too many.”
Mr Thomas-Symonds said the fact that more than 1,100 people crossed to the UK in just two days across Friday and Saturday shows withholding money from France “clearly isn’t working”.
He added: “I’ve always thought the Home Secretary needed to take a different approach.
“Whilst of course the patrols at the coast preventing people getting out onto the water and risking their lives is hugely important – of course it is – what I fear the Home Secretary misses is the fact that nobody becomes a refugee in northern France.
“We need to be tackling the people smugglers and these vile criminal gangs further away from the coast as well.”