Sunak meets Macron in bid to strike new deal on migrant crisis

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Rishi Sunak said there was “a lot” to talk about when he first met Emmanuel Macron at Cop27 under pressure to sign a new agreement to limit Channel crossings.

The French prime minister and president embraced at the United Nations climate change conference in Egypt on Monday, their first face-to-face meeting since Mr Sunak entered Number 10.

The pair will discuss “further co-operation” to tackle the migrant crisis, Downing Street said, adding that the role of the French in the fight against Channel crossings was “of vital importance”.

“It’s very nice to see you,” Mr Sunak told Mr Macron, adding: “We have a lot to discuss, don’t we?”

It comes amid reports Mr Sunak will push for a new deal at the meeting.

The Prime Minister wants to agree on targets for stopping the boats, and on a minimum number of French officers patrolling the beaches. The government also hopes Border Force officers can be deployed to France, according to the Times.

It is understood that a deal is close to being finalized, but it is not believed that there will be any further announcements by the end of the day.

While also defending his decision to keep Suella Braverman as Home Secretary, Mr Sunak said tackling Channel crossings was his ‘key priority’, insisting he would push for a new deal with France, The Sun reported.

“I’ve spent more time working on this the past few days than on anything other than the fall statement.

“We have to pull ourselves together, do a series of things to prevent this from happening, to send people back who shouldn’t be here in the first place,” Mr Sunak told the newspaper.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that Mr Sunak had ‘got along’ with Mr Macron and believes they can make progress in reducing the number of migrants crossing the Channel.

During a visit to Imperial College London, Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer urged the couple to discuss how to “work upstream” to bring down smugglers behind level crossings.

Almost 40,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel so far this year. But there were no crossings in the first six days of November due to bad weather, leaving the provisional total for 2022 so far still at 39,913.

The government, meanwhile, hopes to revive plans for a bill of rights to revise human rights laws as part of its plans to tackle the migrant crisis, after they were put aside by Liz Truss when she became Prime Minister.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said the proposals – which would give UK courts supremacy over the European Court of Human Rights – would come back to Parliament “in the coming weeks”, although they would face to an opposition.

At the same time, Mr Shapps insisted that the rules on foreign aid budget spending had not changed.

The Times reported that the government is set to spend almost half the money on Britain as ministers grapple with the migrant crisis and war in Ukraine.

Under Treasury rules, up to £3.5billion for refugees and migrants in the UK will be considered part of the country’s contribution to international development, the newspaper said.

Mr Shapps told Times Radio that ‘more money’ was being spent this way, but said ‘it had always been the case’ some of the money had been invested in migrants seeking refuge. a new home in this country.

He also described how the overcrowded migrant processing center at Manston in Kent was “tipping over to becoming an unofficial detention centre” when he briefly served as Home Secretary.

During his six-day tenure he was ‘very keen to make sure that we…maintained within the law, had very clear guidance on this and made a number of changes’ to the way the center operated and made sure people were moved, he told BBC Breakfast.

Speaking to Sky News, he added he had received “very clear” advice that the government was “in danger” of breaking the law on Manston if no action was taken.

But he said he had not seen the advice given to Ms Braverman before she took office, when she was first briefly appointed as home secretary.

Hundreds of people staged a protest in the pouring rain on Sunday outside the migrant detention center, demanding the site be closed.

It came as Ms Braverman pledged to speed up the asylum system with the nationwide rollout of a Leeds-tested trial to help streamline the application process.

The eight-week pilot project has doubled the average number of applications processed and cut asylum seekers’ waiting time for an initial interview by 40 percent, the Home Office said.

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