After 1,185 people crossed the border in a single day, Boris Johnson said last night that solving the migrant issue would be impossible without firmer action from France.
On Thursday, the total surpassed the historical record of 853 established on November 3. Only one in every thirteen migrants crossing the Channel to the United Kingdom is stopped by French officials.
Britain has already stated that it expected France to stop three out of four and that as a result, it could withhold £54 million in funds.
Ministers were dealing with the problem “in the most effective way possible,” according to the Prime Minister. “They are coming from France,” he added. Finally, if the French refuse or are unable to supervise those departures, it will be extremely difficult for us to return them at sea. We’d like to do it in a humane and safe manner, but it’s quite tough.’
Mr Johnson emphasized that the government was amending the legislation to distinguish between people who entered the country legally and those who did so illegally. He claimed that while this would make a “significant effect,” it would not be “the end of the story.”
He encouraged French President Emmanuel Macron to do more, claiming that closing the Channel passage would reduce the number of migrants drawn to France. “The whole of Europe faces a migration crisis but we need to focus on those French beaches,” he said.
“What I would say to our French friends is… you need to close down that movement from the French beaches to the UK if you want to stop people coming to France to come to the UK.”
Thousands of asylum seekers are currently being funnelled into Europe through Belarus, according to a UK Border Force source. With no solutions in sight, the numbers are expected to climb even further.
Almost 20,000 people are in the ex-Soviet republic, with approximately 4,000 already in Poland’s porous eastern border’s frigid woodlands. Poland’s defence minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, announced yesterday that Britain will deploy military engineers to assist in the construction of a new fence along the country’s border with Belarus.
A Border Force source said: “How many massing on the border with Poland now will be in northern France in six weeks’ time, and then the UK a week after that?”
Border Force personnel from 33 vessels detained a total of 1,185 migrants, according to the Home Office. Only seven voyages with 99 individuals on board were intercepted by French police, accounting for just under one-third of those known to have tried the journey.
However, French coastguards were informed to two kayaks adrift near Calais, and three persons were believed to have drowned. Two of the migrants on board were rescued, but their colleagues were not found.
The latest data bring the total number of people known to have crossed the Channel this year to more than 23,500, nearly trebling the previous high of 8,400 in 2020.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has authorized techniques to stop and turn the small boats around, but they have yet to be used.
Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont warned that France’s hundreds of kilometres of coastline will never be totally protected, saying, “We are doing everything we can. But, given the length of the coastline, we can’t stop everyone when hundreds of people are attempting to cross every night.”
“It’s simply not credible that 1,000 individuals can walk down the beach and leap aboard small boats without the French authorities noticing,” Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said.
“The French need to get a grip and clamp down on the organised criminal gangs who are behind this problem.” The Immigration Service Union complained that the huge numbers arriving at the migrant reception centre at Dover had left hundreds sleeping on concrete floors.
The Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander Dan O’Mahoney said: “Migrants making these dangerous crossings are putting their lives at risk. As part of our response it is important we have a maritime deterrent in the Channel and Border Force officers are authorised to use safe and legal options for stopping small boats.”
Gerald Darmanin’s representative did not respond to a request for comment.