Sajid Javid: No easy answers to Channel migrant crisis
Sajid Javid has defended his handling of the Channel migrant crisis, saying there are “no easy answers” to the problem.
The Home Secretary has been under mounting pressure to act as increasing numbers of boats have been intercepted making the dangerous journey from Calais to Dover.
More than 220 people have attempted to make the crossing to UK shores since November.
Mr Javid and his French counterpart Christophe Castaner last night agreed a joint plan to reduce the number of people taking to the sea, which will be put in place this week.
The Home Secretary will also chair urgent talks with UK officials on the issue in London today.
But he is facing a backlash from Conservative MPs who are demanding more resources for patrolling UK waters.
Labour has meanwhile accused the Home Secretary of exaggerating the problem to win support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Writing in the Telegraph today, Mr Javid faced down his critics, saying: “The reasons behind the increased crossings are complicated, and in many cases – outside of our control.”
He added: “Unfortunately, this means that there are no easy answers. So our response is focused both here in the UK and abroad.”
He also vowed to get tough on people traffickers arranging the Channel crossings, and said protecting lives was “one of the Home Office’s most important priorities”.
“While we have obligations to genuine asylum seekers which we will uphold, we will not stand by and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our global society,” Mr Javid added.
But Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has appealed for more Border Force ships to be brought in to patrol the Channel.
He told the Times: “I am calling for our Border Force cutters cruising the Mediterranean to return to UK waters and form a new Dover patrol to take back control of our borders immediately.”
Fellow Conservative backbencher Tim Loughton meanwhile said: “It’s good that the Home Secretary is taking personal control of this but frankly he needs to show a much greater sense of urgency.
“These journeys are being made now and clearly we do not have enough assets in the Channel to head them off.
“If the navy can provide that additional resource now, it needs to be brought in.”
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott Home Office meanwhile said the Home Office appeared to have “whipped up” the dispute in a bid to convince MPs to get behind the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan.
She told the Guardian: "There’s no question that with Brexit, and also with the approach of the meaningful vote in January, people are being whipped up about migration issues, because the Government thinks this is the best way of frightening people to vote for their deal.
She added: "It’s the Farage technique: ‘hordes’ of people trying to enter the country. You frighten people about that.”