NATALIE ELPHICKE: When will The Left admit this is no refugee crisis… but simply illegal immigration
Last Sunday, early-morning dog walkers on a Dover beach were greeted with inflatable boats abandoned along the shoreline. Life jackets were strewn across the shingle and sand.
Residents of nearby Aycliffe were alarmed to see Border Force officers chasing groups of young men along local streets and through their gardens, as a Coastguard helicopter circled above.
In the mayhem, one teenage migrant reportedly entered a woman’s home through an open door and asked her to take him to Manchester. When she refused, he asked to use her phone. He was eventually apprehended by a neighbour in her bedroom.
On Sunday, more than 500 migrants were escorted from their dinghies in the Channel by Border Force and RNLI boats. Only yesterday, I wandered down to the beach and found yet another inflatable boat washed up on the shoreline.
NATALIE ELPHICKE: The number of migrants arriving from northern France this year alone is now approaching 40,000. For my constituents in and around Dover, the near-constant disruption to their everyday lives is intolerable (pictured RAF Manston)
The number of migrants arriving from northern France this year alone is now approaching 40,000. For my constituents in and around Dover, the near-constant disruption to their everyday lives is intolerable. So is the growing need for constant vigilance.
So I can only imagine what they made of the news coverage of this latest migrant spike.
What must they have thought if they’d tuned in to BBC Radio 4 on Thursday morning to hear it implied that the chaos engulfing them – and eating up millions of pounds a day – is developing into a humanitarian crisis, with the authorities simply unable to cope with the sheer number of arrivals?
We must all do what we can to alleviate human suffering. But surely we must also be honest about what is actually happening – which is that the vast increase in illegal Channel crossings is being driven by Albanians with no right to asylum on our shores whatsoever.
NATALIE ELPHICKE: We must all do what we can to alleviate human suffering. But surely we must also be honest about what is actually happening – which is that the vast increase in illegal Channel crossings is being driven by Albanians with no right to asylum on our shores whatsoever
Back in the summer, The Mail on Sunday exclusively revealed the findings of an official report that four out of every ten illegal Channel migrants are from Albania, a peaceful country in southern Europe that has not seen conflict for a quarter of a century. Such is the scale of the landings that the Home Affairs Committee was told that ‘one to two per cent’ of Albania’s entire male population under 40 had arrived in Britain across the Channel this year. They are not fleeing wars in the Middle East. Albania is a Nato member. A country seeking to join the EU.
Not that you’d know it from the handwringing rights industry, the charity sector and the skewed reporting of the issue from the Left-wing media and the BBC.
This injustice affects everyone. The sharp rise in migrant numbers has added to a growing backlog of asylum claims – the Home Office has yet to decide on some 100,000 cases. The country is paying £6 million a day in hotel accommodation.
But it’s my constituents who are really feeling the heat. The scale of the recent migrant influx has been so great that new facilities have had to be built at Dover.
Even the huge former RAF base at Manston, which opened as a processing centre in January, where migrants could be held for 24 hours while undergoing preliminary checks, has been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of arrivals.
Older people living in the seaside villages of Kingsdown, St Margaret’s and Aycliffe tell me they are worried about the illegal arrivals on local beaches, a flow no longer limited to the summer months.
They dread the landings, the unexpected knock on the door. This isn’t how it should be. Our border is our front door. No one has the right to walk in uninvited. This is why we have border controls – and why strong border security is vital.
Hardly a day goes by in Parliament without a fellow MP stopping me to rail against their local landmark hotel being snapped up by the Home Office to house migrants.
Migrants carry a smuggling boat on their shoulders as they prepare to embark on a beach near Dunkirk, northern France to cross the English channel
If, as so many on the metropolitan Left claim, those who cross the Channel are genuine refugees rather than economic migrants, then they can, and should, claim asylum in the first safe country they come to.
Which may mean France, or any of the many other countries they will have travelled through before landing on the Kent coast.
It is undoubtedly the case that more can be done in France. This includes putting a stop to the criminal gangs who openly tout for business in the streets of Calais and Dunkirk, and the squalid migrant camps of northern France. It means French officers taking action when women and children are piled into dangerously overcrowded boats and shoved in the water, not standing on by as has too often been the case in the past.
Natalie Elphicke (pictured) is the Conservative MP for Dover. She said: ‘There are plenty of people who are vulnerable or hard up in our own country. People who badly need to have support and opportunities. Let’s focus on that’
To tackle the number of crossings, France needs more support. That’s why I want to see British officers working alongside the French to stop the boats leaving, with other European partners playing an active role too. Only when migrants and criminal trafficking gangs alike know they will not succeed will this crisis end.
I welcome the fact that this rolling catastrophe has been raised with President Macron, but we need an immediate resolution. We cannot wait until next year, when the Prime Minister and the French President are due to meet.
As a nation, we know what war and suffering means. We have a proud record of supporting those fleeing conflict and persecution. From world wars to Ukraine, ours is a decent nation that goes above and beyond to support people in need. We are ready to help. But not ready to be taken advantage of.
It is shameful that British hotels and homes, billions of taxpayers’ money and vital public services are now expected to support people who have never been persecuted but are simply looking for a better, more comfortable life.
There are plenty of people who are vulnerable or hard up in our own country. People who badly need to have support and opportunities. Let’s focus on that.
It’s time that those who have hindered Governments’ efforts to end these crossings – a ragbag of union leaders, pro-migrant charities and Left-wing lawyers – now stopped. It’s time to bring the small boats crisis to an end – to end these dangerous journeys for good. And it’s vital that we smash the criminal trafficking gangs, working with France to stop boats from setting off and to turn back those that do.
Restoring order at the border is essential. I predict it will be a key test for the Government of our new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.
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