RISHI Sunak has been in talks with French president Emmanuel Macron about stopping migrants from crossing the Channel at COP27.

The pair embraced as they met at the climate summit in Egypt on Monday during their first face-to-face encounter since Sunak entered Number 10.

Sunak said there was “lots” to talk about” when he met Macron amid reports he was set to press for a fresh deal with France to curb Channel crossings.

Asked what they will do about the growing number of Channel crossings, Sunak told broadcasters in Sharm El-Sheikh: “It was great to meet President Macron to talk about not just tackling illegal migration but the range of other areas in which we want to cooperate closely with the French on.

“But also let’s remember, this is an issue that affects many countries. And actually, I’ve been talking to other European leaders as well about our shared challenge of tackling illegal migration.

“And I think there is an opportunity for us to work closely, not just with the French but with other countries as well.

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“By working together with our European partners, we can make a difference, grip this challenge of illegal migration and stop people coming illegally.”

Downing Street said talks on a deal with France were in their “final stages”, following the meeting between the two leaders. Talks on the specifics of a deal were taking place separately involving Home Office officials, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman indicated.

The PM added he had “renewed confidence and optimism” that in working together with European partners on migration, the UK could “make a difference”.

The National: Rishi Sunak met with Italian PM Giorgia MeloniRishi Sunak met with Italian PM Giorgia Meloni (Image: PA)

Sunak also discussed the subject when he met the new Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

Number 10 said the leaders had a positive discussion on a range of shared issues and priorities, including tackling illegal migration and people smuggling gangs.

They also agreed to continue to take strong action to support Ukraine and hold Russia to account for its actions. 

The issue of migration dominated headlines last week following a firebomb attack on a migrant centre in Dover.

That was before the spotlight turned to major overcrowding at a processing centre in Manston, Kent, where there were believed at one stage last week to have been 4000 migrants despite the centre only being designed to hold 1600.

Veteran Tory MP Roger Gale called the conditions there “wholly unacceptable”.

Almost 40,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year. There were no crossings in the first six days of November amid bad weather, leaving the provisional total for 2022 to date still standing at 39,913.

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Sunak stood by Home Secretary Suella Braverman, telling broadcasters the Government was making “good progress” on reducing the numbers at the overcrowded Manston migrant processing centre, adding that she was “focused” on the need to “reduce the number of people coming here illegally.”

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told the Commons there had been a “significant reduction” in the number of people at the facility and this was now “back below” its maximum capacity of 1600 after more than 2300 migrants were moved to other accommodation.