The Mirror: No10 blasts 'dangerous' Channel migrant crossings record as UK hands France £54m

The Mirror: No10 blasts 'dangerous' Channel migrant crossings record as UK hands France £54m

Article by Ben Glaze for The Mirror - published 21 July 2021

Downing Street has attacked the “dangerous and unnecessary” surge in migrants crossing the English Channel.

Charities and campaigners insist that providing safe and legal routes for migrants to come to Britain would stop them turning to people trafficking gangs who charge them thousands of pounds for perilous journeys across the sea from North France and Belgium.

But the Prime Minister's spokesman hit out at criminal smuggling networks “who treat people like human cargo” by sending them on voyages through the world's busiest shipping lane in inflatable crafts.

It came as the UK handed £54m to France to tackle the crossings on the day when 2021’s total so far surpassed the entire toll in 2020.

New data confirmed more migrants have crossed the English Channel in small boats this year than in the whole of 2020.

At least 8,452 people have crossed the English Channel in small boats in 2021, analysis compiled by the PA news agency says.

Young children, some too small to walk, were seen being helped by lifeboat volunteers as they reached a beach in Kent on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “The current approach is not working.

“The rise in dangerous and unnecessary small boat crossing is totally unacceptable – that’s why we are taking action to fix the broken asylum system.

“We are changing the laws through the Nationality and Borders Bill to help protect lives and break the business model of the smuggling rings.

“We are also targeting the criminal gangs responsible for illegal crossings at every level.”

He said the number of police “on the ground in France” had doubled, adding: “It is simply not right that we continue to see this level of crossings.

“They pose a threat not just to the individuals concerned but they can also pose border threats.”

Migrants continued to reach British shores yesterday, with beach landings at Dungeness and Dover.

Immigration Minister Chris Philp said Monday when at least 430 arrived, was the "worst day ever" for crossings and it was "vital" action was taken.

The UK Government yesterday handed France another €62.7million (£54.2m) to tackle migrants leaving the French coast.

Home Secretary Priti Patel agreed the cash during talks with French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

They vowed to boost security patrols, with French officers scouring wider areas across the northern coast between Boulogne and Dunkirk, and expand patrols further north-west around Dieppe.

Drones and small planes will scan the shores “to improve coverage of the coast of France to prevent crossing attempts”.

Security at key border crossing points will be bolstered.

Ms Patel said last night: “The British people have simply had enough of illegal migration and the exploitation of migrants by criminal gangs.

“Illegal immigration is driven by serious organised criminals and people smugglers.

“The public are rightly angry that small boats are arriving on our shores, facilitated by appalling criminal gangs who profit from human misery and put lives at risk.”

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, former Home Office Minister Tim Loughton said the "hugely bureaucratic" asylum and immigration system was "broken".

Blaming Paris, the East Worthing and Shoreham MP said migrant Channel crossings were “happening because the French government have consistently failed to close off this route”.

He added: "It would no longer be a magnet of people coming to the French coast and particularly to Calais.

“It would be in the French interest to do it – why on earth are they not doing it?”

Senior backbencher Damian Collins, who represents Folkestone and Hythe, said: “For residents on the Kent coast, including in my constituency, it's become a fact of life that when the weather is good and the sea is calm, hundreds of undocumented asylum seekers will attempt to cross the Channel in small boats.”

He added: "We need to close down these illegal crossing points which are incredibly dangerous, are profiting criminal gangs and are rightly concerning to people who live on the Kent coast... and give people safe routes to this country and safe ways to claim asylum."

Bella Sankey, director of charity Detention Action, said: “We need a mechanism allowing refugees arriving at the UK border in France to be given safe passage.”

Copyright 2021 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Stephen James for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP


linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram