LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that the UK needs to consider changes to asylum laws to deter migrants from crossing the English Channel and it was currently “very, very difficult” to legally return people who arrive in the UK from France using small boats.
According to a BBC report, more than 4,000 people have successfully crossed the English Channel this way so far this year. Immigration Minister Chris Philp is travelling to Paris for talks later. He will be accompanied by the UK’s newly appointed Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney, to discuss how to reduce the number of migrant crossings.
The UK government has said it wants to work with the French authorities to make the route “unviable”.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, the UK’s former national security adviser Lord Ricketts said the UK may need to pay for increased enforcement along the French coast. “The French do have 300km of coastline facing the UK which is quite hard to police and I think a lot of the money they are asking for is to reinforce mobile patrols up and down those beaches to stop people even getting into these boats,” he said.
On Monday, Mr Johnson pledged to work with the French authorities to discourage people from making the “dangerous” journey across the channel. But he added the UK also needed to look at “the panoply of laws that an illegal immigrant has at his or her disposal that allow them to stay here”.
‘Range of options’
The Ministry of Defence said on Monday it had sent an RAF Atlas transport aircraft to help Border Force spot small boats trying to cross the Channel. The Home Office had asked defence chiefs for help to deal with migrants making the crossing. Since Thursday, more than 600 people have been intercepted on the route.
Downing Street said Border Force was looking at a “range of options,” including new measures, to stop boats entering British waters.
The UK is currently following EU asylum law during its 11-month post-Brexit transition period following its departure from the bloc in January. In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel on Monday, 23 Tory MPs and two peers said the UK should refuse to sign up to a “similar agreement” to Dublin after December.
The group said ministers should do “whatever it takes” to deal with the problem, saying many of their constituents were angry that migrants had been put up in “expensive hotels” and given “immediate access” to financial support.
said the UK is committed to “shutting down” the route and dismantling the criminal gangs facilitating the illegal crossings.
Speaking during a visit to Dover on Monday, she said the current situation was “totally unacceptable” and the UK and France need to work together to address what was a “shared challenge”.
The French government says it has deployed extra resources to detect and intercept boats before they set out, leading to a ten-fold increase in the number of crossings being prevented. Intelligence co-operation with the UK has been stepped up while plans to strengthen control of the main crossing points are being finalised, the country’s interior ministry added.