LONDON: Home Secretary Sajid Javid has commented that those attempting the journey may not be “genuine asylum seekers”. “People shouldn’t be taking this very dangerous journey and if they do we need to send a very strong message that you won’t succeed,” he said during a visit to Dover.
“You’re coming from France, which is a safe country, you’re coming to the UK in almost every case you’re claiming asylum in the UK, but if you were a real genuine asylum seeker then you could have done that in another safe country.
“We need to send a strong message that these gangs that are preying on you and selling a false prospectus – they won’t succeed.”
Mr Javid added: “If you do somehow make it to the UK, we will do everything we can to make sure that you are often not successful because we need to break that link, and to break that link means we can save more lives.”
Critics called the remarks “disgusting” and said any attempt to interfere with asylum applications or prejudge the outcome would be unlawful.
The home secretary later said officials would “process that application in the normal way” for anyone reaching British shores, the Independent has reported. He has announced that two more Border Force cutters will patrol the English Channel following a dramatic increase in attempted crossings over the festive period.
A total of 539 people attempted the journey in 2018, with 80 per cent of crossings coming in the last three months of the year.
Following criticism of the decision to label the crossings a major incident – in comparison, Italy and Greece has seen the arrival of more than 1 million migrants during the Mediterranean refugee crisis – he insisted the numbers “were significant”.
“There has been a real step-change [with] attempts in the last three months and we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to stop that,” Mr Javid added.