Construction of a new high-security fence to secure France’s migration zone in Calais begins today – thanks to the UK. More than two miles of fence will be built in an effort to stem the chaos caused by thousands of illegal migrants breaking into lorries for the trip across the English Channel.
James Brokenshire, the Immigration Minister, told the Daily Telegraph he was taking immediate action after a surge in the number of “clandestines” storming the border in the Calais area last week.
The minister will also hold urgent talks this week with the European Commission and haulage firms in an effort to force foreign lorry companies to improve the security of their vehicles.
Speaking on Saturday, as the scale of the Tunisia beach massacre at Sousse became evident, he warned there was a risk that foreign jihadists could try to enter Britain among the thousands of illegal immigrants now living in camps around Calais.
Mr Brokenshire told the Telegraph: “I am very concerned to hear some of the stories of the impact of what we have seen on those who are trying to do their jobs and get produce and trade into the UK.
“It is extremely hard and extremely unsettling and I can only imagine the concern this causes to individual lorry drivers.”
He said specialists would begin moving equipment for the security fencing, known as the National Barrier Asset, to France on Monday, with the aim of completing the work by the end of next month.
The new barrier at Coquelles is designed to reinforce security around two and a half miles of track and platforms used by trains carrying lorries in a move the minister said would make it “much more difficult for migrants to try to break in”.
“There was a site visit at the end of last week and the National Barrier Asset team are mobilising over the weekend to move fencing, hardware and the equipment they need to install that to Coquelles on Monday,” Mr Brokenshire said.
Mr Brokenshire’s meetings with the haulage industry will hear concerns of drivers who are “running the gauntlet”. He will also call meetings with representatives from continental lorry companies and the European Commission to raise concerns that security of foreign vehicles entering Britain is not adequate.
“We in the UK are held out as leading the way on vehicle security,” the minister said. “I do want to see standards applied more broadly across Europe […] so that vehicles are better secured and less vulnerable to stowaways trying to break in.”
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