Sunak to meet with Macron to discuss channel migrants
High on the priority list for their discussions will be the problem of migrants crossing from the large stretch of coastline in northern France to southern England, often making the perilous sea journey in flimsy dinghies.
The UK Government is known to want a bilateral returns agreement with Paris, a deal that would allow London to immediately return those arriving on British shores unlawfully from France.
The meeting is unlikely to lead to a breakthrough on such an accord, with British ministers and diplomats instead privately aiming to cajole Mr Macron’s administration into being a driving force behind an EU-wide returns agreement with the UK.
The talks between the leaders come days after Mr Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman, who will also meet with her counterpart in the French capital on Friday, unveiled the Illegal Migration Bill.
The legislation announced on Tuesday would see migrants who arrive through unauthorised means deported and hit with a lifetime ban from returning.
It comes as Suella Braverman, accused Gary Linekar of diminishing the tragedy of the Holocaust as ministers engaged in an open row with the BBC presenter over his criticism of their asylum plans.
Mr Lineker said he looked forward to presenting Match Of The Day this weekend despite the “ridiculously out of proportion story” surrounding his comments.
Mr Lineker responded on Twitter: “Thank you for mentioning me in your clumsy analogy. I’m just happy to have been better in the 6 yard box than you are at the dispatch box. Best wishes.”
MPs will debate the Illegal Migration Bill on Monday.
If approved by Parliament, anyone who crosses the Channel in a small boat would be barred from ever re-entering the UK and would only be eligible for asylum in a “safe” third country, such as Rwanda.
Powers would be granted to detain migrants for 28 days without recourse for bail or judicial review, and then indefinitely for as long as there is a “reasonable prospect” of removal.
Downing Street stressed that the gathering at the Elysee Palace “isn’t a summit on a single issue”, with energy security, the conflict in Ukraine and the “challenge posed by China” likely to be touched upon.
But the Prime Minister’s official spokesman confirmed Mr Sunak will look to raise his ambitions of working more closely on the issue of Channel crossings.
The spokesman told reporters: “Certainly we are going in there with an ambition to go further on stopping the boats making these dangerous crossings.”
Elysee Palace sources have reportedly briefed that a deal could be signed off on “strengthening” co-operation between the UK and France on managing the border through “multi-year financing”.