Priti Patel's £55m deal gets us TWO cops per mile of French coast in migrant farce
HOME Secretary Priti Patel came under fire tonight after it emerged entire hotels are being block-booked for newly arrived migrants — hitting weddings and staycations.
Record numbers of illegal Channel crossings have already left Britain’s creaking borders in chaos.
And The Sun can reveal the Home Office is offering hoteliers huge sums to take over venues for months to try to address the crisis.
The policy has already seen wedding receptions cancelled and UK holidays ruined — with the school summer break just beginning.
Britain has agreed to hand France another £54million to boost its migrant police numbers to tackle the problem at source.
A total of 200 officers will patrol beaches over an 85-mile stretch between Boulogne and Dieppe — working out at around two cops per mile of coastline, if they worked 24 hours every day.
Critics said it is more like the equivalent of one officer per mile. One Calais MP breezily admitted the money — double the sum agreed with Paris only last November — “will not prevent more crossing attempts”.
Ms Patel was yesterday savaged by MPs as more migrants arrived at Dover in Kent. A Border Force vessel was pictured docking at the port with eight toddlers on board.
'Fobbed off' by the French
And in one poignant image, a tiny girl held on tightly to her mother as she came ashore wearing a bright orange life-jacket. MPs said it was vital to stop the journeys in France to prevent lives being risked in perilous crossings.
The number of illegal migrants crossing the Channel into Britain smashed annual records this week. This year’s total of 8,474 illegal migrants crossing is already above 2020’s record 8,420 — with more than five months still to go.
The surge has left the Home Office struggling to find accommodation for the new arrivals, many of whom include vulnerable women and young children.
And officials are scrambling to source rooms just as Britain prepares to embark on its biggest staycation season in decades because of the pandemic.
Whitehall sources insisted it is up to individual hotels to decide if they wanted to take in migrants and cancel existing bookings. But industry insiders said many venues were being offered sums well above market rates to encourage them to help out.
A source said: “You have to remember the industry has been devastated by Covid. There have been no paying guests for months. For a lot of hotels, it’s a chance to make guaranteed money for weeks, if not months. You have to be brave not to take up that offer.”
Ms Patel faced a fiery session, via a video link, with the Commons Home Affairs committee. MPs pointed out to the Home Secretary that the number of small-boat crossings had soared three-fold in her time in office.
And they also attacked the £54million deal, accusing Ms Patel of being “fobbed off” by the French.
Fellow Tory MP Tim Loughton blasted: “Just giving the French more money to carry on doing what they are doing badly is not going to solve the problem.” Ms Patel tried to claim that France had a “different interpretation of saving lives at sea”.
But Mr Loughton told her: “That is an excuse from the French for not doing what they are not only able to do under international law but actually obliged to do under international law.
“Two crimes are being committed by the occupants of those boats — one is trying to enter the UK illegally and the second is paying money to organised crime — both of which provide grounds for the boats to be intercepted, the occupants apprehended and returned to France.
Just giving the French more money to carry on doing what they are doing badly is not going to solve the problem.
“You are getting fobbed off with excuses.” Yesterday holidaymakers heading for Hythe in Kent found that their summer break had been ruined.
'The asylum system is being exploited by criminal gangs'
All 43 rooms at the Stade Court Hotel, for which guests had paid up to £183 a night, have now been booked by the Home Office until September for migrants.
Signs outside told visitors the venue is “temporarily closed”.
Key worker Kevin Wood, 56, from Dover, was due to stay there to attend a pal’s wedding on Friday. He said: “I was called by the hotel yesterday stating they had been taken over by the Home Office and bookings were cancelled.
“They also, shockingly, told me I would have to sort my own refund. All other hotels are booked so we must get a £100 taxi to get to and from the wedding. It’s outrageous. We can’t go abroad and now we can’t go to the UK either.”
Another holidaymaker, who wanted to stay anonymous, said: “We were all getting together as a big meet-up because we haven’t seen each other in four years. We had five bookings for eight people in the Stade Court Hotel. We won’t be able to book anywhere else at the last minute so we will have to cancel the weekend.”
Kevin Saunders, ex-chief immigration officer for Border Force in Calais, fumed: “With the sheer number of people crossing the Channel, I can understand how we have got to this situation.
The rise in crossings and the impact on individuals is unacceptable.
"If there are 1,000 migrants every couple of days, that’s what was going to happen. It’s outrageous we are kicking Brits out of their rooms. Something needs to change.”
A Whitehall spokesman said: “The Home Office are not responsible for decisions taken by hotels, but the rise in crossings and the impact on individuals is unacceptable.
“The asylum system is being exploited by criminal gangs who facilitate dangerous and illegal journeys which undermine the UK’s generous asylum system.”
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