Tory MP says French could stop small boats ‘overnight’
The EU has ruled out a deal which would allow Channel migrants to be returned to France, according to reports.
Leaked documents, reported by the Daily Mail, indicate the refusal came from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s head of cabinet.
German politician Bjoern Siebert told British officials that Brussels will not consider signing a post-Brexit returns agreement, according to the newspaper.
Mr Siebert reportedly rejected the deal at a face-to-face meeting with the Cabinet Office’s National Security Adviser Sir Tim Barrow earlier this year.
An internal UK Government memo says of the EU official: “He stressed that the Commission is not open to a UK-EU readmissions agreement.”
But Brussels disputed claims that Mr Siebert rejected the agreement.
A European Commission spokesman said: “Mr Siebert never said what it is claimed.”
When Britain was a member of the bloc some migrants were returned under the Dublin Regulation, which allows migrants to be reported to the first EU country they enter.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is thought to have been aiming for an improved version of that deal.
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A Government source said: “The EU can’t even agree a migration deal between themselves so it’s no surprise they aren’t willing to discuss a readmissions agreement with us.
“Even under the Dublin Agreement we took more people than we sent the other way.”
It is understood UK ministers still hope a returns deal can be struck and believe it would act as a deterrent.
A Government spokesman said: “We remain open to working with the EU to take forward negotiations on a UK-EU returns deal.”
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