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.
The Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart has issued a warning in Paris at a meeting with the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve that “I could take the decision to block the port (Calais). I could bring pressure to bear.”
She said that the migrants were costing too much and making life unpleasant.
Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for Dover said:
“If Calais was a UK town we would be indignant at the situation, but blocking the port and the Channel crossing I don’t believe is the right way to find a solution to the problem.”
“There is much much more that could be, and should be done to stop that flow of illegal migrants.”
“Ultimately the solution is in the source countries where the migrants are coming from, and these governments must fulfil their international responsibilities to prevent this illegal trafficking. Frontex the European Agency established to combat illegal immigration into the EU must do more. The EU governments must do more to catch the criminal gangs who are exploiting and making money out of these people.”
“We need to do far more to intercept vehicles and freight coming into this country. We are after all an island, and we need to bolster security in Dover. We need to invest much more into the UK Border Agency, I give credit to the haulage and freight companies in the UK for investing in new technology, but we need to adopt new technology at ports to intercept illegal immigrants.”