Last weekend, a record number of illegals entrants arrived in a single day. In the end there were eight boats with a total of 74 illegal entrants. This comes on top of a record number of illegal entrants arriving in the past month.
This crisis was meant to have been dealt with at Christmas. We were told an agreement entered into with the French in January would put a stop to these dangerous crossings. But no. The situation has got worse. What was a crisis at Christmas looks set to continue to surge through the summer.
The Home Office needs to get a grip– and prevent a summer of chaos in the English Channel. For this is not simply a question of border security – even though that is incredibly important. It is about the exploitation of vulnerable people by criminal gangs. Gangs that Britain and France should be working together to catch and bring to justice.
These journeys are also incredibly dangerous. The boats are almost always overcrowded boats with men, women and children on board. The risk of tragedy in the middle of the English Channel is very real.
Some people tell me these are desperate people fleeing for their lives. That is nonsense – because it doesn't explain why they have gone through a number of safe countries to get here. The right way is for people to make any asylum claim before setting off on a dangerous journey across Europe. The UK invests more in international aid than any other European country. People who seek asylum in the places of safety we provide are doing the right thing.
Yet the cases of people doing the right thing are disadvantaged by people doing the wrong thing. The people making dangerous journeys, travelling through safe countries and paying vast sums to people smugglers. We must not reward the gangs and increase the pull of the Calais migrant magnet.
Make no mistake. These illegal entrants making dangerous crossings really do risk making Calais a migrant magnet once again. We should never forget the horrors of the Jungle – a desolate place where vulnerable people lived in squalor. People smugglers roamed free. Truckers and tourists feared for their lives as chainsaws were revved at the side of the road.
That's why I fought so hard to get rid of it once and for all. The French authorities finally caved in to strong and sustained pressure. By the end of 2016 the camp was dismantled. We must never allow it to return.
The Home Office must act now with France to end this crisis. Only with a powerful message that you cannot break into Britain will we see improvement. That's why stronger and safer borders must become a national priority.
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