When I visited Calais in September 2014, meeting both migrants and the deputy mayor of the town, I warned that the issue of illegal immigration across the Channel wasn’t going to go away. That was less fashionable then than it is now. But what a mess the current situation is.
We’ve all become so used to hearing of trouble at Calais that the extent of the problem today can be missed. After one single breach of security this week, 148 migrants were found in Folkestone. How many more got away and are now at loose in Kent or the rest of the country is anybody’s guess. Two thousand have stormed Channel entry points in one go. The estimate of the number who have had to be removed from inside the Channel crossing itself is 35,000 since the start of the year alone.
So the heart sinks when we hear of David Cameron or Theresa May ‘working with the French’, as the Prime Minister has just put it. That is exactly the problem.
Now make no mistake – far from being opposed to working with the French, I do so closely as a Vice-President of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group in the European Parliament. The difference is that I am working with strong French voices who oppose this shambles while Theresa May and her colleagues are working with the French politicians who won’t lift a finger to address the root of the problem.
The socialist French government will neither suspend the Schengen Agreement, which lets so many illegal migrants reach Calais in the first place, nor will it systematically remove illegal immigrants from their country who should not be there in the first place.
As the party of Marine Le Pen, president of the Europe of Nations and Freedom group, put it this week: ‘Even if everyone seems to have forgotten it, being illegally present on French soil is a crime’. And it fell to the Front National’s Steeve Briois to defend UK sovereignty, highlighting ‘the weak-will of the French state, which for thirty years has allowed on to its soil a massive and uncontrolled immigration.’
I know which stripe of French politicians I prefer to work with myself, Theresa – the ones with the solution, not the ones responsible for the problem.