'Are the British going to shoot migrants?' Calais mayor sparks fury as Channel row erupts


    Home Secretary Priti Patel has been accused of “irresponsible” behaviour after it is said she threatened to “push back” any vessels attempting to make the journey over the Channel to the UK. It has been estimated that around 1,500 people travelled across the Channel into the UK in the space of a three-day period.

    The attack on the UK included digs at the appealing benefits which are gained from living in Britain, as well as the availability of jobs in the country.

    There has been a big deterioration in relations between France and the UK, with the former head of the Royal Navy saying that he believed the French border patrols were being run by Inspector Clouseau.

    Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart was quick to pounce at the UK after their proposal to send vessels back to France if they attempt to cross the Channel.

    Speaking to Voix du Nord, Ms Bouchart said: “Are they going to shoot at the boats and at the passengers in the small boats?

    “It’s not like we’re going to have serious relations about the migration problems that we manage…

    “The British should, for the sake of humanity and to prevent any risk of dying at sea, pick up migrants who are in a hot spot on their territory.”

    Ms Bouchart also made clear that the British have always had the option of “sending them back alive to their country of origin”.

    Xavier Bertrand, President of the regional council that covers Callais, also launch his own attack towards the UK as he said: “The British must stop being hypocritical.

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    “They welcome migrants, give them jobs, and pay them very little.

    “As long as there is this UK attraction, there will be unfortunate people trying to get through, exploited by the criminal people smugglers.”

    Dr Peter William Walsh, of the Migration Observatory at Oxford University, has joined these French politicians in questioning the statement made by the Home Secretary about turning the vessels around.

    Dr Walsh said: “It’s one of these things where people expect the Government to be able to do something but it’s actually really difficult without breaking international and maritime law.

    “It’s hard to imagine this would be able to happen. In order to return the boats to France you need the cooperation of the French, but they’ve said no.

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    “So doing so anyway would count as an invasion of their territorial waters.

    “There’s a real question about whether politicians are serious or whether this is just a rhetorical effort.”

    Home Office data shows there were 1,542 people detained after being stopped by Border Police following their 21 mile trip across the Channel.

    This brings the total number of arrivals that have been officially recorded to 14,127.

    Natalie Elphickle, MP for Dover, has defended the measures which are being taken by the UK to deal with this surge as she said: “If the French won’t stop the small boats then we need to. By turning boats back, making returns and taking firm control of our borders.”

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has emphasised that the new measures being taken will very much remain with international law, as he said: “This has been a persistent problem for a long period of time. The Home Secretary is rightly exploring every possible avenue to stop that.

    “We have said that that will include looking at turning migrants back, but that will only be done in accordance with international law and clearly the safety of migrants is absolutely paramount.”


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