The Home Minister of Great Britain and the Interior Minister of France appear to be rethinking the glorious benefits of immigration of which we have been assured for the last 60 years.
Migrants think our streets are paved with goldWell, they do say the first step is to admit that you have a problem. But the answer isn't fighting "illegal migration" it is stopping mass migration and repatriating the previous migrants.
Those fleeing Africa for financial gain in Europe have unrealistic ideas about what we can offer
What we are currently facing is a global migration crisis. This situation cannot be seen as an issue just for our two countries. It is a priority at both a European and international level. Many of those in Calais and attempting to cross the Channel have made their way there through Italy, Greece or other countries. That is why we are pushing other member states – and the whole of the EU – to address this problem at root.
The nations of Europe will always provide protection for those genuinely fleeing conflict or persecution. However, we must break the link between crossing the Mediterranean and achieving settlement in Europe for economic reasons. Together, we are currently returning 200 migrants every month who have no right to asylum.
We are also working to ensure that people in the horn of Africa understand the stark realities of a dangerous journey that will result in their being returned to their own countries.
We must be relentless in our pursuit of those callous criminals who are encouraging vulnerable people to make this journey in the first place. That is why we are also working closely together to tackle the criminal gangs that are making a profit out of people’s misery. Both the UK and France are playing a leading role in this through operations in the Mediterranean and better intelligence- sharing and increased collaboration between law-enforcement agencies across Europe. Seventeen gangs have been smashed since the beginning of this year, thanks to our joint work.
Ultimately, the long-term answer to this problem lies in reducing the number of migrants who are crossing into Europe from Africa. Many see Europe, and particularly Britain, as somewhere that offers the prospect of financial gain. This is not the case – our streets are not paved with gold.
We must help African countries to develop economic and social opportunities so that people want to stay. We must work with those countries to fight illegal migration and allow people to be returned to their home countries more easily. This means a better targeting of development aid and increased investment.