- By Chris Mason & Kate Vannell
- BBC News
Rishi Sunak said on the sidelines of an Anglo-French summit in Paris that spending more money with France to stop small boat crossings was a “wise investment”.
The Prime Minister has met French President Emmanuel Macron and the two are holding a press conference later.
Speaking ahead of their meeting, Mr Sunack said the £63m a year to increase policing on France’s beaches was paying off for the UK.
He argued that this was better than paying immigrants to England.
“I think everyone knows we’re spending £5.5m a day extra on hotels – we don’t do that and the best way to stop that is to stop the first comers,” he said.
The UK government hopes to use the summit to boost UK-French efforts to stop migrants crossing the English Channel.
But the two countries are expected to fail to reach a deal on returning migrants to Britain to France.
The French government is thought to want a deal between the UK and the EU, disappointing British diplomats who want to see swift action.
“We want an EU-UK withdrawal agreement and will push it forward,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman said.
“But it’s equally important to have work on the ground now to stop the intersections we’re seeing even in these winter months.”
A French government source said: “At this stage, and because of Brexit, there is no deal between France and the UK.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer argued that without a deal for failed asylum seekers, talks between the UK and France would “make a bad situation worse”.
“We’ll have people who can’t go through the system, who can’t be sent back, so they end up in hotels and other accommodation at taxpayers’ expense,” he added.
The conflict in Ukraine, nuclear power and renewable energy are also on the agenda at the Paris summit.
Mr Sunak also said he planned to speak with the French president about relations with China ahead of Mr Macron’s visit to the country.
The Prime Minister met Mr Macron at the Elysee Palace on Friday morning and the two are now taking part in a roundtable discussion with French and British companies.
Mr Sunak will be joined on his trip by Foreign Secretary James Cleverley, Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Environment Secretary Therese Coffey.
The summit comes in the same week that Mr Sunak unveiled his plans to stop small boats from crossing the canal.
Under these plans, anyone who has entered the UK illegally will not only be removed within 28 days, but will also be prevented from regaining or claiming British citizenship in the future.
Those arriving on UK shores will be returned to their home country or another “safe third country” such as Rwanda.
The British government feels that relations with their opposite numbers in Paris on this issue have improved significantly over the past two years.
But Downing Street’s desire to “make small boat passage across the Channel impossible” is a bold ambition – especially as the numbers to the contrary continue to rocket.
So far this year, about 3,000 people have arrived in small boats, but the two governments say their joint work has stopped a similar number from starting the journey.
Rather than a major breakthrough, an announcement of deeper cooperation on the issue is expected.
Officials point out that both the UK and France are nuclear powers, members of the G7, G20 and NATO security alliances and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
Brexit has been a stumbling block in the relationship between the UK and France in recent years.
It’s a month of particularly intense activity between the two countries – King Charles and the Queen Consort will arrive in France in a few weeks.
Next year marks the 120th anniversary of the Entente Cordial, which ended centuries of rivalry between the two countries.