Migrants ‘ready to die to reach UK’

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Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (4)

There are around 2,500 migrants in Calais and many are “prepared to die to come to England”, the town’s mayor has told a group of MPs.

Natacha Bouchart told the Home Affairs Select Committee that the border should be returned from Calais to Dover as her town struggles to cope with an increasingly violent population of migrants.

And Ms Bouchart repeated her assertion that Britain’s “much more favourable” benefit system was one of the main reasons migrants are flocking to the French port town.

The mayor has stoked tensions between France and Britain by threatening to blockade the ferry port in an effort to force the UK to act.

Ms Bouchart told the committee that international events, such as conflicts, as well as a lack of a European strategy for dealing with the flow of migrants, were to blame for the crisis in her town.

But measures put in place by the British Government were “aspirational” and “attracting” migrants, she said.

“You have a much more favourable regime in Britain than in other European countries,” the mayor said. “The weekly benefits of £36 that are given to asylum seekers or migrants, which is a huge amount for people who have nothing in their lives.”

Ms Bouchart backed a proposal from French president Francois Hollande in favour of a reception centre being constructed in Calais, which she said would hold migrants away from the urban zone of Calais.

She said: “The real magnet is not the city of Calais, the real magnets are the benefits perceived in Great Britain.”

The so-called Le Touquet Treaty, signed in 2003 by then-home secretary David Blunkett, allows UK border officials to be stationed at ferry terminals in France and French border police to be stationed at Dover – effectively moving UK borders across the Channel.

The mayor told the committee this should be reversed.

“I do think the frontier should be on British territory because it’s up to you to decide whether or not you wish to welcome these migrants or not,” Ms Bouchart said.

The mayor told the committee there were around 2,500 migrants in the town from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, among other countries.

Ms Bouchart said the current situation was worse than that seen in Sangatte – the now-closed controversial Red Cross centre located just outside the port that housed thousands of migrants.

“The problem is worse than Sangatte because Sangatte was a closed environment whereas now we have the immigrants throughout the city, throughout the centre of the city of Calais and that is affecting the local population,” she said.

Asked if the European Union (EU) had helped, the mayor said: “The EU has not done anything to contribute. They have not come to visit and they have not paid for anything. All the situations and problems that we’ve had, we’ve had to deal with ourselves.

“There’s a question of the local population being harassed and there’s been violence, and there’s been no indemnification for that.”

Responding to Ms Bouchart’s comments, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “Clearly, one of this Government’s focuses in this area is to look at what are the pull factors around immigration and how we can address them.

“We have under this Government introduced a three-month delay before EU jobseekers can access jobseeker’s allowance or child benefit or child tax credit. We are limiting jobseeker benefits to only six months, and we will shorten that to three months in the future. Entitlement to housing benefit (has been) removed from EU jobseekers.

“What we are seeing across the board with the measures we are taking on immigration is that non-EU net migration is close to its lowest level since 1998.

“We have also been working with the French. One of the things we’ve done is a £12 million investment by the UK to bolster security and infrastructure in Calais.”

Published: Tuesday 28th October 2014 by The News Editor

Comments (4)
  • Lordelpus

    Says much about our lax benefits system when they are prepared to die to get here for the consequent free ride!

    • Sean

      I think it probably says more about what they’re leaving than what they’re coming to.
      Interesting that there was a time when refugees were welcomed in this country, no matter how potless they were, but economic migrants were discouraged. Now it seems people in trouble can all go back home as we only have space for skilled people who were trained at the expense of taxpayers in poorer countries.

  • keith lambert

    germany has done it
    telling us what we can/cannot do in our country

  • keith lambert

    stop it all get us out of the eu and make britain great again the eu have done nothing but take billions of british money and given littel back then telling us we have to take immigrants in and pay them our tax money and make nearly every british citizen sick we need a government what will stand up and do what the british people want them to do and not to do as there please

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