Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart has expressed her frustrated anger with the UK by once again threatening to “open the border” to thousands of migrants unless the British government attends talks to resolve the migrant crisis. This adds to her previous threats to blockade the port if the British government did not send more help.
The outspoken mayor of Calais berated David Cameron, claiming: “Cameron is mocking us, he is holding our territory in contempt and imposing his laws on the people of Calais.”
The Telegraph reports Bouchart did not identify the laws to which she was referring, but she previously called for the scrapping of the Le Touquet Treaty, which lays responsibility for border controls on the French side.
Bouchart added that if the British “don’t want to sit down at the table and (look at issues of) security, humanity and economic solidarity, we should open the border… Morally we can’t do any more but our population is supportive (of the migrants). What we are asking for today is economic aid to help us get through this financially.”
She did not limit her criticism to David Cameron, also saying that French President François Hollande step up to deal with the “barely manageable” crisis which has seen more migrants die in June and July this year than in the last six months of 2014. She demanded: ” [President François Hollande] must thump the table, once and for all, on behalf of all of us, we must make this a diplomatic incident.”
A Home Office spokesman said that since 2014, Britain has given an additional £12 million to reinforce Calais border security, spent £2 million upgrading detection technology and given £1 million to an extension of dog searching capacity. He restated the UK government’s commitment to working closely with the French to tackle the crisis in Calais but added:
“We must also treat the causes of this problem, not just deal with its consequences. That’s why the UK is playing a leading role in pushing for action through the EU and the UN to tackle the causes of illegal immigration and the organised trafficking gangs behind it.”
Another French mayor, Franck Dhersin of Téteghem said British police are failing to take their share of responsibility for the “English mafia” based in a migrant camp a few miles away from his town. He has called on the British police to team up with French counterparts to arrest the gun-toting UK-based smugglers he says are terrorising his community.
This comes at the same time as five people linked to an Albanian smuggling network are being held in custody under suspicion of trafficking migrants. AFP reports the local prosecutor’s office in Boulogne-sur-Mer said four were Albanians and the fifth, a woman, was based in France. They were arrested Tuesday suspected of hiding migrants in trucks crossing the Channel on ferries. A police source suggested the gang worked in tandem with some truckers.
The Daily Mail reports Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, warning any relaxation of security will “open the floodgates” for more migrants to head to Calais. He said:
“She does not control the border but if she chooses to relax the policing operation it could have very serious consequences. I have some sympathy with Miss Bouchart – she is under a huge amount of pressure – but any relaxation of security would open the floodgates.
“Every migrant coming from Greece and Italy would eventually end up in Calais.”