I pressed the Home Secretary to hold urgent talks with his French counterparts after a record eight boats carrying 74 migrants arrived in Dover on Saturday.
In a meeting last night (June 3), Sajid Javid promised to renew efforts to stop illegal entrants getting into Britain across the English Channel. It also came to light that gilet jaunes protests in France are blamed for fewer police patrolling the French border over recent weekends. I made the case that UK assistance should be offered.
I told him we need to do more. If we make the Channel a joint protection zone, we can help the French secure their border when their police are too busy battling rioters in Paris. I also pressed the need for 24/7 aerial surveillance and for the French to step up the action they are taking to stop these people setting off from French beaches.
Because one thing we know around here – whether it's Sangatte or the Calais Jungle – you will only put a stop to this when migrants and traffickers know the attempts won't succeed.
We also discussed the need to ensure people traffickers are caught and brought to justice. This morning it emerged that a French court has sentenced an imam to two years in prison for helping migrants try to cross the Channel in inflatable boats. The 39-year-old Iranian national was accused of arranging several crossings from northern France to England. A 29-year-old Senegalese man who attended the mosque where the imam preaches was given nine months in jail and was banned from visiting Nord and Pas-de-Calais for three years.
I welcome these convictions – but we need to see more of them. Mr Javid agreed on the need to focus ever harder on smashing the criminal gangs behind these dangerous crossings. I hope we see urgent improvement on this whole issue – and a new, stronger agreement with the French – because stronger borders should be a national priority.
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