The EU has been accused of “cynically exploiting” the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean to further it’s dreams of European integration. Although Britain has deployed naval forces to assist in a rescue operation, France and Italy are blocking the mission until Britain agrees to take in thousands of migrants.
Last month Britain deployed HMS Bulwark, the Royal Navy’s flagship, and the frigate HMS Kent to assist in operations designed to smash the smuggling rings currently shipping migrants into Europe.
Following the sinking of one migrant ship which resulted in catastrophic loss of life, EU heads of state were all in agreement that patrols in the Mediterranean must be reinstated. One senior EU official said at the time “We are determined to destroy their business model.”
But the initiative has floundered, as Continental members have rejected Prime Minister David Cameron’s condition that the British boats be used to take migrants to the nearest port, either in Italy or Malta.
According to the Sunday Express, Foreign Office sources are suggesting that France and Italy in particular are insisting that Britain “takes it’s fair share” of up to 25,000 migrants, with one source saying “The Prime Minister was very clear. However, there is increasing pressure from other nations that Britain should do more. Obviously, this has delayed things somewhat.”
UKIP’s migration spokesman Steven Woolfe has expressed his disgust at the cynical haggling, saying “It is to Britain’s credit that we were the first nation to offer and place real maritime support into the Mediterranean to help Italy.
“What seems to be happening is cynicism at its most repellent. Our humanitarian efforts are being held up by the wish of our Continental friends for Britain to be a full part of the EU asylum system. It looks as if the migrants lives are being held hostage to a dream of greater European integration. Shame on them.”
Conservative MEP David Campbell-Bannerman was in agreement, saying: “The Prime Minister is right to take a tough line on EU immigration demands. The EU regards us all as EU citizens living in their EU empire. The EU believe it is their right to dictate where immigrants are sent and totally disregard national borders.”
A Government spokesman has said: “The Prime Minister was clear at last week’s European Council that Britain would be playing its role in tackling the crisis in the Mediterranean but that our focus would be on saving lives, not offering people asylum in the UK.”
According to the Office of National Statistics 29,875 people, including children, applied for asylum in 2013, the last year for which there are figures.