France warns UK targets on migrant crossings would be ‘serious loss of trust’

PARIS – The French interior ministry said a mooted decision in the U.K. to pay France only if more migrants are stopped from crossing the Channel would represent “a grave loss of trust” between the two countries.

“The conditions of the funding were negotiated in detail with the British and it was never question of conditioning the money to specific targets,” it said in a statement. “That approach would translate into a serious loss of trust in our cooperation.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly told MPs she would cut funding for French operations if more migrants weren’t stopped.

“We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far,” The Times quoted her saying, “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 yet seen those results. The money is conditional.”

Two months ago, the U.K. agreed to give France €62.7 million towards surveillance operations on the French coast between Dieppe and Calais.

That pledge appears to be under considerable strain after a record number of migrants are believed to have crossed the Channel into the U.K. in a single day. Reports say 800 to 1,000 people arrived on Monday.

Patel is said to be prepared to pull the plug on the deal unless three in four crossings are stopped by the end of the month. France has stopped half the small boats trying to cross the Channel since the beginning of the year, according to the interior ministry.

Patel and French interior minister Gérald Darmanin will hold talks in the margins of a G7 meeting on Wednesday. France hopes these will provide “a clarification of the terms of the cooperation.”

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