The Mayor of Calais said Britain sending in the Navy to police the Channel would be ‘a declaration of maritime war’ amid a sharp rise in the number of migrants making the perilous crossing.
Mayor Natacha Bouchart responded to Priti Patel’s formal request for help from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as the number of people making the life-threatening journey continues to climb – with four boats carrying around 30 people arriving this morning.
The Calais Mayor said in an interview with France 3: ‘I think the [French] government would oppose it.
‘Here we are hostile to it. Rather than accept migrants who would work in the black market, Boris Johnson would do better than to teach us lessons, would be better to create better laws to to accept people in his own country.
‘The British themselves have created this hot air by not reviewing their own reception systems and are content to hand out lessons and by subjecting the people of Calais to this situation for too long.’
A migrant woman holds her head in her hands while clutching a child after arriving on Dungeness Beach in Kent today
The Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart (pictured) said Britain sending in the Navy to police the Channel would be ‘a declaration of maritime war’ amid a sharp rise in the number of migrants making the perilous crossing.
A child is helped by Border Force officials today as four boats carrying around 30 people arrive this morning
A storage yard shows the vast number of dinghies and rowing boats previously used by migrants to cross the Channel
The yard in Dover was completely packed with dozens of small boats used by groups to try and reach the UK
At least 4,375 migrants have reached the UK by small boat so far this year – including some 825 this month
The boats are stacked up in the yard after another day of migrants making the perilous journey
Around 7.30am today, men and women were seen being brought into Dover by the Border Force (pictured)
A young child was spoken to by medical staff after making the journey across the Channel
The child held an official’s hand and is spoken to by medical staff after making the dangerous crossing
A group of migrants were brought into Dover by Border Force officials in Kent today
At least 4,375 migrants have reached the UK by small boat so far this year – including some 825 this month. Pictured: Migrants being brought into Dover today
Lawyers representing asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel on small boats have launched legal action to halt their deportation, which is due to take place on Wednesday. Pictured: Migrants being brought into Dover today
Migrants sit on the shore as they speak to a police officer after arriving on Dungeness Beach in Kent today
As efforts to address the escalating migrant crisis intensified today, it also emerged:
- Six boats carrying a total of 74 migrants were intercepted crossing the English Channel from France on Tuesday;
- At least four boats carrying around 30 people reached Britain today;
- Immigration minister Chris Philp and Home Secretary Priti Patel clashed with ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s over plans to tackle the crisis;
- The RAF was providing aerial support for the Border Force for the second time this week, with a Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flying from Kinloss Barracks in Scotland to monitor the situation in the English Channel;
- Lawyers representing asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel on small boats have launched legal action to halt their deportation, which is due to take place later today
A military plane was sent out on Monday to survey the Channel and alert the Coastguard and Border Force to emerging crossing attempts.
Around 7.30am today, men and women were seen being brought into Dover by the Border Force vessel Seeker.
They will be medically checked before being questioned by immigration officials.
Last night, a group of 22 migrants crammed onto a dinghy were spotted making the crossing.
At least 4,375 migrants have reached the UK by small boat so far this year – including some 825 this month.
Speaking to reporters in Dover today, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (pictured) said: ‘With all the tough talk and with it happening every day it’s becoming a bit of a national humiliation
Farage (pictured) defended the use of the word ‘invasion’ to describe migrants arriving in the UK by sea
Speaking to reporters in Dover today, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: ‘With all the tough talk and with it happening every day it’s becoming a bit of a national humiliation.
‘Until people know that coming via this route they will not be allowed to stay, they will just keep on coming.’
He defended the use of the word ‘invasion’ to describe migrants arriving in the UK by sea.
‘I said in April I thought there would be a summer invasion, by which I meant a very large number of people illegally landing on our beaches now.
‘As it is, some land on beaches but most get picked up before. I think it’s a pretty reasonable use of the word, yes.’
Farage (pictured) said: ‘I said in April I thought there would be a summer invasion, by which I meant a very large number of people illegally landing on our beaches now’
Migrants gesture as they arrive in port aboard a Border Force vessel after being intercepted while crossing the English Channel from France on Wednesday
Migrants wearing protective face masks arrive on board a UK Border Force vessel in Dover today
Migrants – including a child – are seen disembarking from a Border Force vessel in Dover today
Lawyers representing asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel on small boats have launched legal action to halt their deportation, which is due to take place on Wednesday.
Immigration Minister Chris Philp held talks with French officials in Paris on Tuesday in a bid to devise a ‘new, comprehensive action plan’ to tackle the crossings – after repeated crackdown plans failed.
He said after the meeting: ‘Today I met with the French Government to discuss the urgent issue of small boats illegally crossing the channel.
‘We agreed that in order to stop these boats we have to make the route completely unviable and discussed a new comprehensive joint operational plan to do just that.
A group of 22 migrants crammed onto a dinghy were spotted stranded in the English Channel last night
The group -who were not wearing life jackets – crammed onto the boat and waved at the camera
The jam-packed boat was photographed on the final leg of its journey across the Channel
French officials have blamed the UK’s ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘black economy’ for increasing the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats (one pictured last night)
‘Our discussion covered all elements required to make this route unviable.
‘We will be working together in the coming days to further develop and agree this new plan.
‘Our new Channel Threat Commander, Dan O’Mahoney, will be returning to France for further discussions next week.
‘I was also pleased that following the appointment of our Channel Threat Commander, the French will be reciprocating by creating their own new national commander on this critical issue who will be appointed very soon.
‘These were positive talks, and both sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to making the route completely unviable.’
It comes as migrants attempting to cross the Channel threatened to drown themselves if they are stopped by the Royal Navy.
Father Kamal Sadeghi, who is getting set to make the perilous journey with his wife and 11-month-old daughter (pictured together), told The Times : ‘I am too tired to carry on. If they try to stop us I will drown myself’
Migrants can be seen being brought to Dover harbour by Border Force officials this morning
Families preparing to make the crossing to Britain from Calais claim the stretch of water will become ‘a sea of bodies’ if the British government intervenes and sends them back to France.
Christian convert Kamal Sadeghi getting set to make the perilous journey with his wife and 11-month-old daughter after fleeing his home in Iran.
He told The Times: ‘I am too tired to carry on. If they try to stop us I will drown myself.’
Mr Sadeghi, 39, his wife, Niki Karimi, 33, and their daughter, Sava, who turns one on Sunday, have spent ten days living in a tent in woodland in Calais having fled Iran after his wife’s family objected to their marriage.
He told The Times: ‘We need just a normal life. We need to get on a boat. If they try to stop us I will kill myself. I would jump in the water’.
The family told the paper they attempted to stay in Slovenia after leaving their home country three years ago, but lost their savings to the ‘mafia’ after they were put in jail ‘with 300 single men’.
French officials have blamed the UK’s ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘black economy’ for increasing the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.
Immigration Minister Chris Philp held talks with French officials in Paris on Tuesday in a bid to devise a ‘new, comprehensive action plan’ to tackle the crossings – after repeated crackdown plans failed. Pictured, one of the migrants who travelled to England today
UK Border Force officials help migrants disembark from their patrol vessel HMC Eagle after arriving at the marina in Dover
Priti Patel’s migrant war… against Ben & Jerry’s: Ice cream giant goes on Twitter attack over Home Secretary’s call for Navy to police the Channel
Priti Patel was dragged Britain into a new cold war after going head to head with ice cream giant Ben & Jerry’s.
The American company’s British branch criticised the Home Secretary’s call for the Navy to stop migrants crossing the Channel, but a Home Office source immediately hit back, saying Miss Priti’s department did not care about angering ‘a brand of over-priced junk food’.
The spat began when Ben & Jerry’s UK Twitter account posted: ‘We think the real crisis is our lack of humanity for people fleeing war, climate change and torture.’
It went on to say ministers should make it easier for refugees to reach the country: ‘People wouldn’t make dangerous journeys if they had any other choice. The UK hasn’t resettled any refugees since March, but wars and violence continue. What we need is more safe and legal routes.’
Ben & Jerry’s claimed ‘people cannot be illegal’ and pointed to the 1951 Refugee Convention which states that entering a country illegally should not affect claims for asylum.
The string of tweets ended with: ‘Let’s remember we’re all human and have the same rights to life regardless of the country we happen to have been born in. And once more for the back: people cannot be illegal.’
In a Twitter thread, Ben & Jerry’s UK said that ”stronger’ borders aren’t the answer’ and that ‘people cannot be illegal’
A Home Office source told the BBC: ‘Priti is working day and night to bring an end to these small boat crossings, which are facilitated by international criminal gangs and are of serious concern.
‘If that means upsetting the social media team for a brand of overpriced junk food then so be it.’
The row came as Miss Patel vowed to take much tougher action on migrants crossing the Channel.
She has asked officials to look into whether the Royal Navy could be used to turn back ships and has begun conversations with France on cutting the number of crossings, which Miss Patel has described as ‘unacceptable’.
However, critics say her proposals could be illegal.
There is also an expectation in maritime law that a captain of a ship will help any other vessel that is in danger, which covers many of the small boats carrying migrants in the Channel.
Six boats carrying a total of 74 migrants were intercepted crossing the English Channel from France on Tuesday.
Today, a further four boats carrying around 20 migrants made the journey to Britain’s shoreline.
The Royal Air Force was providing aerial support for the Border Force for the second time this week, with a Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flying from Kinloss Barracks in Scotland to monitor the situation in the English Channel.
Britain’s immediate entitlement to benefits, healthcare, housing and the possibility of working soon after arriving are what makes Britain worth the hazardous journey, French officials claim.
Yusshka Mir, 36, a designer from Iran, told the Times: ‘What Boris Johnson does not understand is that for us it is better to die if we cannot reach England. I would drown myself. We will all die.’
Just one in five migrants who have tried to cross the Channel have been intercepted by France – as politicians from the country now claims the newcomers are lured into Britain by its generous welfare state.
Immigration minister Chris Philp travelled to Paris on Tuesday to seek stronger enforcement measures – as Border Force continued to deal with crossings along the south coast of the UK.
Mr Philp said that French authorities had caught ‘well over a thousand’ migrants making the crossing this year, but figures from January 2020 to August 6 show the total number to have made the trip to Britain in small boats is around 4,100.
More than 600 people have made the journey just in the previous few days, suggesting that the proportion of those intercepted is roughly one fifth.
Defence select committee chairman Tobias Ellwood told the Telegraph the French were ‘unable to cope at the best of times’ – and accused the country’s authorities of ‘half-heartedness’.
‘In normal circumstances, the French are only preventing around half of the dinghies crossing the Channel – but during the current spike that’s dropped to a fifth,’ he said.
‘It’s clear that only with greater maritime collaboration with the British can we attempt to significantly reduce the success rate of the crossing.’
He also voiced support for involving the Armed Forces ‘during this heightened period’.
Deputy mayor of Calais Philippe Mignonet told French newspaper Voix Du Nord migrants risked the crossing ‘because they can work in the black economy when they want, because there is no control, not on the street or in the workplace’.
‘I fear a tragedy one day at sea, but the British blame us for their own hypocrisy,’ he said.
National Society for Rescue at Sea in Calais president Bernard Barron added that migrants have now ‘mastered the sea and, with GPS support, wait until they are in British waters to send out an SOS call’.
He said Britain’s government will criticise migrants for making the journey, ‘but they do not criticise themselves, questioning the reasons that make their country so attractive’.
It comes as lawyers representing asylum seekers who arrived in the UK by crossing the Channel on small boats launched legal action to halt their deportation, which is due to take place on Wednesday.
Speaking to reporters after the Paris meeting, Mr Philp said the ‘sheer numbers’ crossing the Channel were ‘completely unacceptable’ to both the French and UK governments, so it is quite clear that more needs to be done.
Migrants were today intercepted while travelling in a RIB from France to Dover. Men and women were seen being brought into Dover by the Border Force vessel Seeker around 7.30am and medically checked before being questioned by immigration officials
It is thought at least four boats carrying around 30 people reached Britain this morning
‘And that is exactly what this new, comprehensive action plan that we are working on will aim to do,’ he added.
Mr Philp would not comment on details of the plan but claimed there were a ‘number of measures, some of them new, which are under discussion’.
He said it would be ‘premature’ to talk about financial commitments at this stage because the plans were still being finalised.
But he insisted both countries had ‘renewed and reaffirmed their absolute commitment to make sure this border is properly policed and this route is completely ended.’
Newly-appointed clandestine channel threat commander Dan O’Mahoney, who travelled to Paris with Mr Philp, will return to the continent early next week to continue discussions, with France due to appoint its own commander.
The Government has also faced fresh criticism over warnings nine months ago that its own policies meant migrants were resorting to more dangerous routes.
Migrants were given masks and blankets on Dungeness Beach in Kent today
Around 30 migrants made the crossing this morning. It comes one day after at least 74 in six vessels made the perilous 21-mile crossing over the Dover Strait – the world’s busiest shipping lane.
Migrants disembark after arriving at Dover harbour this morning
The men were seen on the edge of the French side of the Channel and were not moving as the outbound motor on their boat had broken down. A group of cross-Channel swimmers returning to Britain saw the vessel bobbing in the water at around 5pm yesterday and raised the alarm
Home Secretary Priti Patel headed to Dover on Monday, and was seen disembarking from a police boat that had been out in the Channel earlier that morning
A report by the Foreign Affairs Committee published in November said: ‘A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups.’
Home Secretary Priti Patel was a member of the committee at the time of its inquiry.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of using inflammatory language after calling migrant boat crossings a ‘very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do’.
He also hinted at changing laws to tackle the problem, while Downing Street said Brexit would help as it would end the ‘inflexible and rigid’ requirements on how asylum applications are examined and considered.
The Home Office has formally requested help from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with a military plane sent out on Monday to survey the Channel and alert the Coastguard and Border Force to emerging crossing attempts.
But Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said bringing in the Navy was a ‘political measure’ intended to show ministers were taking action and warned that it ‘won’t change anything’.
The Home Office has formally requested help from the Ministry of Defence (MoD), with a military plane sent out on Monday (pictured) to survey the Channel and alert the Coastguard and Border Force to emerging crossing attempts
The latest outcry follows a similar storm last summer when another spike in crossings led Mr Johnson to warn Britain was prepared to start sending back those migrants who did make it across – comments which were branded ‘misleading and inflammatory’ by campaigners.
Since then there have been a series of meetings between UK and French ministers and officials, each time with the promise of more agreements or resources in efforts to address the problem.
Bella Sankey, director of Detention Action, said: ‘Any ”comprehensive plan” must create a safe and legal route for those who would otherwise risk a Channel crossing, otherwise it is neither comprehensive nor an effective plan.
‘These negotiations with French counterparts are doomed to further failure unless the UK Government can stop chasing unicorns and show some principled and noble leadership’.