Prime Minister vows action over ‘desperate’ migrant crossings
The UK is a “target and magnet” for people traffickers, Boris Johnson has said, as migrant crossings continue.
The Prime Minister says he has “a great deal of sympathy” for parents so desperate that they are putting their children in dinghies and even paddling pools to cross the Channel.
However he said that they are falling prey to criminal gangs and vowed to change the law to help tackle the crisis.
Mr Johnson addressed MPs after sunshine over the English Channel and calm seas led to a surge in migrants reaching the UK on Wednesday.
More than 100 people were brought into Dover on Wednesday morning, packed aboard Border Force patrol vessels and sitting in lifeboats.
Some of the suspected migrants smiled and waved as they arrived into the busy port while others carried toddlers too young to walk.
There are also multiple reports of people landing on beaches in Kent.
Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Johnson said: “I have a great deal of sympathy with those who are so desperate as to put their children in dinghies or even children’s paddling pools and try to cross the Channel.
“But I have to say what they’re doing is falling prey to criminal gangs and they are breaking the law. They’re also undermining the legitimate claims of others who would seek asylum in this country.
“That is why we will take advantage of leaving the EU by changing the Dublin regulations on returns and we will address the rigidities in our laws that makes this country, I’m afraid, a target and a magnet for those who would exploit vulnerable people in this way.”
Lashing winds and choppy seas brought on by Storm Francis at the end of August made crossings impossible for several days, but conditions have improved in the first two days of September.
Wednesday saw bright sunshine and winds under 5mph in Kent, with temperatures expected to reach 18C.
The coastline of northern France is clearly visible across the Channel and French marine patrols can be seen on the horizon.
The Home Office has yet to confirm how many migrants successfully crossed to the UK on Tuesday.
More than 1,450 migrants made the crossing by small boat in August despite a vow from Home Secretary Priti Patel to make the dangerous route “unviable”.
Immigration officials at the port of Dover have been busy on Wednesday, with dozens of migrants waiting aboard Border Force vessels and lifeboats in the harbour.
Among their numbers were adults carrying young children.
Many of the migrants had to wait for an hour before they could be taken off the Border Force patrol boat and ushered ashore.
Once on dry land, they will be assessed for symptoms of coronavirus, as is protocol.
Several empty dinghies with outboard motors attached were also seen being towed into the port throughout the day.
Border Force and the RNLI remain active in British waters with French marine patrol boats in operation on the other side of the Channel.