The Prime Minister has this morning met with the Home Secretary and the Transport Secretary to discuss the situation in Calais to ensure that everything possible is being done to address the problems caused.
Yesterday has to be one of the worst days we have seen in terms of disruption at the Channel Tunnel, caused principally by strikes at the Port of Calais. The strikes have not only caused huge backlogs, that have disrupted roads across Kent and beyond, but the tunnel has b...een broken into and the tracks damaged. This begs the question as to whether we should be considering legal action against the strikers, and their unions.
It cannot be right that a strike at the Port of Calais can lead to the closure of Eurostar services, and disruption across our area. This should never have been allowed to happen. Moreover, the chaos has caused long queues for lorry drivers in Northern France, which in turn has provided opportunities for illegal immigrants to attempt to board them in the hope of entering the country.
The situation is shameful for the French authorities, who have lost control and are complicit in allowing migrants to travel across France to our border. This is why we see the bottleneck in Calais that we do today. We have tried to help the French authorities and have provided funds and security fencing, but it is abundantly clear that they should be doing more. The French know that we will enforce our borders but they still allow migrants to congregate in squalid conditions with the faint hope that they might one day reach Britain. That there are 3,000 migrants permanently camped in Calais shows, for the very most part, how unachievable this is as an ambition.
As alarming as the images of groups trying to sneak into the back of lorries are, there is a big difference between people attempting to enter the country, and actually succeeding in doing so. According to the Home Office, about 19,000 attempts to cross the Channel have been prevented in 2015, more than double the number during the same period last year. Granted, this reflects the worsening situations in many parts of the world, but more importantly it also demonstrates how effective our border controls are. We also have robust and effective mechanisms in place to deal with the tiny percentage who succeed, having risked their lives to do so.