Priti Patel said her thoughts are with the families of all those who tragically lost their lives in “French waters” after 27 people tragically died in the Channel.
There was shock and dismay on both sides of the sea at what was widely described as a “tragedy”.
A joint search and rescue operation by the French and British authorities launched after a fishing boat spotted people in the sea off France was finally called off late on Wednesday.
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said the dead included five women and a girl while two survivors had been picked up and were being treated in a French hospital. One of the dead women was later reported to have been pregnant.
“Literally getting away with murder”
French interior minister Gerald Darmanin said the boat the which sank had been very flimsy, likening it to “a pool you blow up in your garden”.
The French authorities have arrested four suspected people traffickers in connection with the incident while the regional prosecutor has opened an investigation into aggravated manslaughter.
Following a meeting of the Cobra emergencies committee, Mr Johnson said it was clear that French operations to stop the migrant boats leaving “haven’t been enough” despite £54 million of UK support.
He said the people traffickers were “literally getting away with murder” and that he hoped the French would now find the renewed offer of joint patrols “acceptable”.
British to blame
“We’ve had difficulties persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves,” he said.
“I understand the difficulties that all countries face, but what we want now is to do more together – and that’s the offer we are making.”
However the mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, said that it was the British who were to blame and called on on Mr Johnson to “face up to his responsibilities”.
“The British Government is to blame. I believe that Boris Johnson has, for the past year and a half, cynically chosen to blame France,” she said, according to French media reports.
In 2019, Home Secretary Priti Patel promised to make migrant crossings an “infrequent phenomenon” by spring 2020 and then pledged in August last year to “make this route unviable”.
The Government says its new New Plan for Immigration will “fix the system” but its Nationality and Borders Bill has been criticised by charities.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “shocked, appalled and deeply saddened” about the tragedy on Wednesday and hit out at people trafficking gangs who are “literally getting away with murder”e6
Here’s reaction to the home secretary’s tweet: