DEJA VU can be a terrible thing, especially when it involves the death of people.
But that is what I felt this week when I read that 27 migrants had perished as they attempted to cross the Channel. We have seen this before, in 2015 at the start of the European migration crisis.
When I read that 27 migrants had perished, I felt déjà vu, yet the PM seems unwilling to pursue the policies necessary[/caption]
Back then, when a boat full of migrants sank, the EU countries didn’t know what to do. There was great sympathy for those making the journey over the Mediterranean, and natural horror at the tragedy.
But partly as a result, politicians went slack on doing the things needed to stop the crossings. This created a historic crisis and eventually more than a million people made their way illegally into the continent.
The same thing looks set to happen now in the English Channel. The number of people who have already crossed this year is more than three times what it was last year.
More than 26,000 people have illegally entered the UK through this route so far in 2021.
And what are our politicians doing? Here at home, the Prime Minister and Home Secretary dither. They know the policies needed to stop the boats. These all come down to one thing — making it clear that if you try to enter the UK illegally then you will fail.
Yet the Prime Minister seems unwilling to pursue the policies necessary, worried as he appears to be by how it might make him look. But there is also the fact that his French counterpart is Emmanuel Macron. Our nearest ally is once again proving to be our biggest pain in the neck.
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The migrants coming to our country are all leaving from France, where they mass on the coastline, paying vile smuggling gangs to bring them to Britain. The French know about this. The UK effectively bribes them to stop it. But the cynical French President obviously does not want to stop the flow.
First because these people are now a very effective political weapon for him to use against Brexit Britain. Foul though it is to consider. Macron enjoys his power over the UK to get our government where he wants them. Plus, every thousand illegal migrants who make the journey to our South Coast are another thousand migrants who aren’t in France. T
The French say one thing and do another. But as British discomfort grows they are feeling very comfortable. So comfortable indeed that the French have now decided to play political games with peoples’ lives.
On Thursday evening Boris Johnson publicly challenged France to take back migrants who illegally reach the UK. He is right to make this call. France is a safe country. People who come to the UK from France should certainly be taken back to France. And France should, in turn, return these people to the countries from which they have come.
But France long ago lost control of its own borders. You can see this on the streets of Paris and other major French cities, where migrant camps have spread everywhere. There is no chance of France sorting out this problem. So they push the problem on to us. Making it our problem too. So our PM’s request was completely reasonable.
But how did Macron respond to it? First by behaving like the mini emperor he so often tries to be. Boris Johnson’s request was not “serious”, he loftily declared. He criticised the PM for posting his letter on Twitter.
How did Macron respond to it? First by behaving like the mini emperor he so often tries to be. Boris Johnson’s request was not ‘serious’, he loftily declared.
As though the French government only accepts communications written on parchment. As a result of this huff Macron has now disinvited our Home Secretary from an emergency meeting in Calais.
If the French really wanted to deal with this crisis in the Channel then they would never behave in this way. They would be working with the UK to find a solution.
And they would realise that you cannot reach a solution if you ban members of the British government from even taking part in the discussions.
Get a grip
They behave like this because, for Macron and his government, the migrants are just another tool to attack Brexit Britain.
We have already seen what the French have been willing to do over fishing rights.
Just last month they detained a British boat, accusing it of being in French waters.
Because the French believe they should be able to fish in British waters, but that this favour should not be returned. Behaving like this — detaining foreign vessels — is the sort of thing you might expect from North Korea. It is not what you expect from a country such as France.
The migration crisis and the fishing crisis are both reminders that Macron is willing to play games with absolutely everything. Even peoples’ lives.
But he should stop. For all of our sakes. If France and Britain do not get a grip on this crisis in the Channel then it is likely to get a lot worse. With results that we have seen before.
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