Every month the European Parliament migrates to Strasbourg for a few days. The travel connections between the UK and Strasbourg are a nightmare and so I normally drive. Last month as I came back from Strasbourg and got to the EuroTunnel at Calais, access to the car entry was somewhat blocked by hundreds of lorries and I had to queue with the lorries for 15 minutes before accessing the right lane.
The sight around me was quite astounding. There were literally hundreds of migrants queued by the roadside, running across the motorway and trying to enter the stationary lorries.
I put the central locking on my car and couldn’t wait to get out of there. I wondered at the time why this was not getting more press coverage in the UK. Well it is now. The events of Tuesday this week with a lightning strike by French dockers, leading to an opportunist rush from migrants taking advantage of a difficult situation, lead to all routes across the channel being closed. It all reminded me of the famous Times headline: “Fog in the channel, Continent cut off”.
Be in no doubt that this crisis can only worsen. In the middle of the General Election campaign I flew to Strasbourg to give a speech. Our friends at the BBC described it as “Nigel Farage taking a break from campaigning”. What I tried to do was to inject a new element into the dull, negative campaign by pointing out that the boat loads of migrants coming from North Africa had the ability to turn into an exodus of biblical proportions.
This was based on my reading of the EU Common Asylum Policy document, where the definitions of who should qualify for asylum are set so broadly that it seemed to me that most of Africa could qualify.
Since that speech the numbers coming have increased and the approach from Commission President Mr. Juncker is that all EU member states must share the burden.
I tried to point out that when Australia faced a similar crisis in 2008, they responded by sending out a message: “You will not make Australia your home”. The boats stopped coming. And so did the drowning.
In contrast, Mr. Juncker sought to further extend the criteria of those who might qualify by saying that “extreme poverty” was yet another qualification.
My attempt to inject the migrant crisis into the election campaign failed because Downing Street briefed the BBC and other media outlets that we were opted-out of the EU Common Asylum Policy and that once again Farage was scaremongering.
Well let me answer this. The people attempting to board the lorries at Calais on Tuesday are potential illegal immigrants into the UK. They know that their chances of not getting caught and disappearing into the black economy are good. They also know that even if they are caught, their chances of being returned are remote and as tens of thousands arrive on the southern shores of Europe, the problems in Calais can only magnify.
If Italy and France and the rest of the EU really want to solve the migrant crisis problem, they could cynically issue these people with EU passports then they could all legally come to Britain, which shows how valueless a so-called British opt-out is.
But even worse than that, Isis have said that they will use the migrant tide to flood the European continent with their own Jidhadist fighters.
Already photographs have been seen of Isis supporters in Rome outside those great historical buildings. Whilst I fully understand that many of the boats that come from Libya contain people whose suffering has been immense, whilst I fully accept a degree of culpability as the Cameron/Sarkozy bombing of Libya was undertaken without any thought for the consequences, we and the rest of the EU are simply not capable or able to take millions of people, especially people who have not been screened or checked for potential links with extremism.
When I say that our compassion in the EU now poses a direct threat to our civilization, I mean it.
As I write, I am at the EU summit for day one of the great attempted Cameron renegotiation. As recently as June 7th the Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond said that we would need Treaty change to meet British demands in this renegotiation.
It would appear from rumours in the building that Cameron has now accepted that any such Treaty change is impossible within the time constraints of a referendum by the end of 2017.
The new rumour is that a series of promises will be made that at the next Treaty change, Britain’s demands will be met. If David Cameron really thinks that the British people will accept a post-dated cheque from a group of leaders who will have been mostly replaced by the time the cheque is due to be honoured, he’s got another thing coming.