Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday said the Calais migrant crisis has been caused by a ‘swarm’ of people crossing the Mediterranean.
Speaking in Vietnam during his south-east Asian tour, Cameron said the UK would not be a “safe haven” for illegal immigrants.
Despite repeated attempts by migrants to cross the Channel, Cameron insisted that the border was secure. But the prime minister said he understood the frustration felt by travellers and said the authorities were doing everything possible to make sure people had a “safe and secure holiday”.
The prime minister said the French had sent an extra 120 police and the UK was investing in fencing and security measures at the Channel crossings in Calais and Coquelles.
He acknowledged the situation was “very testing” and said the government was taking action to make the UK a less attractive destination.
He told ITV: “This is very testing, I accept that, because you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain because Britain has got jobs, it’s got a growing economy, it’s an incredible place to live.
“But we need to protect our borders by working hand in glove with our neighbours the French and that is exactly what we are doing.”
He added: “I speak to President (Francois) Hollande regularly about this and frankly the co-operation between the British and the French has been good.
“The whole idea of having our border controls on the French side of the Channel, that is actually incredibly important. The fact that we are able to help erect these fences, invest in security, work with the French in partnership, that helps.”
But he said “frankly we also have do more, and we are already passing legislation to do more, to make Britain a less easy place for illegal immigrants to stay”.
He told the BBC: “We will remove more illegal migrants from our country so people know it’s not a safe haven once you’re there.” Meanwhile, the Refugee Council said the phrasing was “awful, dehumanising language from a world leader”, while Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham called it “nothing short of disgraceful”.
There have been calls from MPs and tabloid newspapers for the army to be deployed to tackle the crisis, but the Home Secretary, Theresa May, has said the priority is to install security fencing.
Some newspapers suggested Nepalese Gurkha troops based in Kent, the southern English county directly over from Calais, were best placed to step in.
“Send In The Army,” the right-wing Daily Mail splashed on its front page. Over five pages of coverage, its articles included one opinion piece headlined: “We kept out Hitler. Why can’t our feeble leaders stop a few thousand exhausted migrants?”
Another was headlined: “Why the French ARE to blame”. It cited Prime Minister Cameron saying that Britain needed to work with France rather than point the finger of blame.
But the article added: “Sorry, prime minister, but we should point fingers—directly at the French. The responsibility for this increasingly dangerous situation lies with them.”
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