‘We’ll pull out of Calais’: French general in charge of stopping Channel migrants heading to Britain threatens to withdraw his men if Priti Patel holds back funds
The French commander in charge of stopping migrants in the Channel has threatened to pull out his men if Priti Patel withholds UK funds.
In an explosive intervention, General Frantz Tavart said that if the Home Secretary goes through with her pledge to cut UK-taxpayer support he will call off nightly patrols.
The gendarmerie is currently mounting night-time operations to intercept migrants on the French coast, with 130 regulars and reservists working in the Calais area, General Tavart told the BBC.
He said: ‘We know the British have threatened to cut their financial support. I’m very clear.
Priti Patel (pictured) said last month she would withhold an extra £54million unless France stopped more migrant boats
‘If they stop paying for their reservists I will pull my men. For us, it is a real form of ingratitude.’
Miss Patel said last month she would withhold an extra £54million unless France stopped more migrant boats.
General Tavart added: ‘The proof of our efficiency is that smugglers are now trying to go from the Belgian coast, even the Somme.
‘But that dilutes our resources across the territory. It’s like a game of chess where the smugglers always make the first move.’
In July Miss Patel agreed to give France another £54million.
But weeks later she was reported to have told Tory MPs privately: ‘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.
General Franz Tavart said: ‘The proof of our efficiency is that smugglers are now trying to go from the Belgian coast, even the Somme.’ (Pictured: Migrants rescued in the Channel)
Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s clandestine Channel threat commander, said: ‘The French have stopped many thousands of crossings this year, 12,000 already… they know there is more to do and so do we.’ (Pictured: French president Emmanuel Macron)
‘It’s payment by results and we’ve not seen those results. The money is conditional.’
After her remarks, and disclosure of a UK plan to turn around boats in the Channel, France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin said his country would not accept ‘any practice contrary to maritime law, nor any financial blackmail’.
More than 17,000 migrants have arrived across the Channel since January, compared with 8,410 in all of last year. There were 669 arrivals on Sunday alone.
Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s clandestine Channel threat commander, said: ‘The French have stopped many thousands of crossings this year, 12,000 already.
‘The French know there is more to do and so do we.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘There is no point in our two countries having a public back-and-forth on a financial agreement.’