Theresa May will today launch an EU charm offensive by vowing to spend £75million of taxpayers’ cash on tackling the migrant crisis in the Med.
At the start of a crunch two-day summit in Brussels, the PM will outline plans to use Britain’s overseas aid budget to prevent Africans from risking their lives by paying smugglers to get on a boat in Libya. The package will provide the funds to take thousands of migrants back to their home countries in Africa through “voluntary returns”.
And it will stump up money for food, water and humanitarian relief for those cut adrift by people traffickers in the desert. Aid Secretary Priti Patel said the package – which nearly doubles the UK commitment in the Med so far – would target transit routes running from the Horn of Africa and West of Africa through to countries including Niger, Egypt and Libya.
Last year some 181,000 people arrived in Italy via this route.
The commitment comes at the start of vital EU Council where the PM is expected to seek her first big Brexit breakthrough by making a “generous” offer on residency rights for 3 million EU citizens living in Britain. Senior Government sources said the PM would outline the deal over a working dinner tonight before the full proposal is unveiled at the start of next week.
She will be forced to leave the dinner immediately after – so the remaining 27 EU leaders can discuss the divorce talks among themselves. Senior Government sources last night denied the UK had asked for a special session on Brexit.
EU insiders said the PM was also due to meet EU Council President Donald Tusk for a one-on-one meeting.
Vie The Sun