‘UK and France have agreed to tackle deadly Channel crossing’

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The ambitious goal is one of several announced by the Prime Minister and the President after they met in the Czech Republic.

So far this year more than 33,000 people have risked their lives crossing the sea from France to the UK.

But the two countries revealed they will hold a summit in 2023 to “strengthen co-operation on energy security” while also “tackling illegal migration”.

Reaffirming the ties between the nations, Ms Truss New hope and Mr Macron agreed that the next UK-France Summit – dubbed “La Co-operation” by Downing Street – will be held in France next year.

A No 10 spokesman said: “They agreed to deepen co-operation on illegal migration within the bounds of international law, to tackle criminal groups trafficking people across Europe, ending in dangerous journeys across the Channel.”

Ambitious “Interior ministers should conclude an ambitious package of measures this autumn.”

“Leaders agreed to reinforce cooperation with near neighbours, including through an early meeting of the Calais group.”

“President Macron and Prime Minister Truss welcomed the quality of the discussions during the first summit of the European Political Community and look forward to next steps.”

Ahead of their meeting at the European Political Community summit in Prague, Ms Truss took the opportunity to confirm that Mr Macron was “a friend”.

During the Tory leadership campaign, as the then-Foreign Secretary, she had declined to say whether she considered the President a “friend or foe”.

Mr Macron later suggested it was a “problem” if Britain could not call itself a friend of France.

But there was no doubt how Ms Truss felt yesterday.

She told broadcasters: “I work very, very closely with President Macron and the French government.”

“What we’re talking about is how the UK and France can work more closely together to build more nuclear power stations and to make sure both countries have energy security in the future.”

“We’re both very clear the foe is Vladimir Putin who has, through his war in Ukraine, threatened freedom and democracy in Europe and pushed up energy prices which we are now all having to deal with.”

Asked again about her relationship with the French leader, the PM confirmed: “He is a friend.”

Mr Macron thanked Ms Truss for being at the summit, where she also held talks with other European leaders, including her Czech counterpart, Petr Fiala.

No 10 said they noted opportunities for future collaboration on securing long-term energy supplies.

The two leaders were also in “strong agreement” on the need to present a “united front” against Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “brutality” towards Ukraine.

Ms Truss also met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Her presence in Prague has attracted interest given the UK’s frosty relations with the EU in recent years and the ongoing row over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

But Ms Truss insisted: “This is not about moving closer to Europe.”

“What this is about is working with all of our European partners to challenge Putin’s appalling war in Ukraine, but also to work together on the issues we all face – huge energy costs, rising inflation and also migration across our continent.”

Her words on the small boat crisis come as new figures showed almost 8,000 migrants crossed the English Channel in September.

Meanwhile, a union representing Border Force officers warned that people who attempt the perilous journey are being held for up to a week in a new processing centre that is “struggling” to cope with the numbers.

The POA union said conditions at the Manston immigration short-term holding facility in Kent are “inadequate”. Food and water has run out on occasion and rising “tensions” at the centre have led to the police being called in.

Opened by the Home Office in January 2022, the holding facility is located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet.

The union claims a large influx of people in September means the target of holding people there for 24 to 48 hours is “purely aspirational”, with some staying at the facility for up to a week.

A POA spokesman said: “A member working at the site likened the situation to a pressure cooker coming to the boil with a jammed release valve.”

Kent Police confirmed they had been called to the immigration centre twice in the last two weeks.

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