Today I spoke with BBC Five Live on the illegal migrant issue (29/7/2015)
We need a European solution to address the problem of illegal migrants entering the United Kingdom from Calais which has caused massive disruption to the lives of the people of South East England.
The government needs to take ownership of the problem of illegal migrants, by accepting that the Dublin Regulation is not fit for purpose. We need to redraft the laws at a European and national level to compel source countries to receive and retain its citizens when they have been legally repatriated from EU member states.
It is my view that we need to support the planned increase in the overseas aid budget that the Department for International Development (Dfid) manages. I believe that it is time however that the British taxpayer should see real value and return in the overseas aid budget, with investment and projects targeted by our government, that will aim to tackle large flows of its population leaving. Source government’s must be helped to grow and manage their own economies in order to reduce the need for people to migrate to Europe.
Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for Dover has backed the Home Secretary Theresa May proposal, which will see the creation of “secure-zones” for British-bound lorries at Calais, to stop vehicles being targeted by illegal immigrants.
“Some people may think it strange that the British Government is creating secure zones on French soil. However, it is obvious that the way forward is for the two, or 28, nations to work together to deal with a problem that has ramifications across Europe. However my priority is to protect British freight travelling to Calais or inward bound.”
“The secure zones will make it much more difficult for migrants to stow away on stationary lorries and this is very welcome.”
Referring to continued industrial action by trade unions in Calais, which as a result has seen unprecedented chaos to and from the French port, Richard Ashworth MEP said:
“There is an obligation on the French government to ensure the free movement cross border. While the right to strike must be a matter for French law, but, being on strike does not entitle those workers to obstruct a public highway, and French authorities must do more to keep the cross border traffic flowing.”
The French authorities must do more to secure the crossing into the United Kingdom, “the French have a responsibility to manage illegal migrants in their territory. In other words not to run a transit camp but to register and process all migrants”.
Richard Ashworth MEP has also called for a stronger response by European police forces to confront the criminal gangs of people traffickers, “there needs to be recognition by the 28 member states that the current legislation is not fit for purpose”.
The new secure zone proposed by the government will be able to absorb up to two and a half miles of queues, in a bid to avoid a repeat of scenes at the end of last month involving thousands of migrants trying to break into lorries. The secure zone will provide a secure waiting area for 230 vehicles – the equivalent of removing a two-and-a-half mile queue from the approaching road.
Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East and member of the European Parliament’s Budget Committee told John Stapelton on LBC this morning that the UK does not have an obligation to assist Greece under the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
“The Greek people expressed a wish to stay in the Euro, but they can only do so if they stay within their means. Key in that is they must tackle corruption in the public sector and whole sale mass tax evasion.”
“The Greeks will only receive money in stage payments only on the basis that reforms are undertaken.”
“The UK could be asked to make a contribution of £800 million to Greece only if budgetary procedures are triggered, that is a suggestion the European Commission has made. The UK Government is quite right to resist this suggestion. The UK is not in the Eurozone, and this is a question for the ECB and the IMF to deal with.”
Responding to assurances that the £800 million would be repaid to the UK Government Richard Ashworth said:
“We are not members of the Eurozone and we do not have an obligation to assist. While it might be said that the money will be repaid, it will be over a very long period time”.
The following letter was sent to the Frans Timmermans, 1st Vice-President of the European Commission over the situation of striking French workers in Calais and the migrant issue.
I write to you in light of coverage in the media and complaints from my South East England constituents regarding the unsatisfactory state of affairs in Northern French ports.
The sustained industrial action taken by French trade unions has repeatedly interrupted cross-border traffic between the UK and France. This has caused serious disruption to freight flows as well as affecting the lawful free movement of persons as described by EU treaties.
Cross-border trade is being held hostage by the French unions in order to assert greater pressure on the French government. I urge you to ensure that the French authorities apply all measures at their disposal in order to enable unrestricted functioning of the vital cross border links.
My major concern is that this industrial action is taking place in a region which is already a “hotspot” for illegal migrant activity. My constituents complain that they have been subject to menacing and threatening behaviour by desperate migrants when entering the ports (not only Calais but also Dunkerque). The behaviour is targeted at ordinary innocent persons travelling in their cars (often with children and young family members) it is particularly intimidating given that no police authorities can be seen in the area.
I appreciate that the migration issues is a long-term problem and cannot be resolved in the short term. I further appreciate and support the comments you made to the European Parliament last week. I wish to ensure that the Commission is aware of the full extent of this problem and I call on the Commission to put pressure on French authorities to secure the lawful free movement of goods and people between France and the UK.