Calais Mayor: Stopping Illegal Boat Migrants Is Declaration of ‘Maritime War’

Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart attends in Calais, northern France, on November 2, 2013, a demonstration supporting the employees of pharmaceutical chemical components manufacturer Calaire Chimie, in liquidation, and sheet metal specialist LK Industries, which threatens to close. Between 350 and 500 people demonstrated in Calais against a plan to …
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images

The Mayor of Calais claimed that Britain has “declared maritime war” by floating the idea of sending the Royal Navy to the English Channel to prevent further waves of illegal boat migrants from reaching British shores from France.

The outburst from Mayor Natacha Bouchart came one day after British immigration minister Chris Philp travelled to Paris to try to secure a deal that would see migrants immediately returned to France.

“The British themselves have created this hot air by not reviewing their own reception systems and are content to hand out lessons and by subjecting the people of Calais to this situation for too long,” Bouchart pronounced.

“It is a declaration of maritime war,” she claimed in comments reported by The Sun.

“Here, we are hostile to it [the Royal Navy]. Rather than accept migrants who would work in the black market, Boris Johnson would do better than to teach us lessons, would be better to create better laws to accept people in his own country,” the mayor fumed.

“Technically I don’t even know how they would do [it], and I think the [French] government would oppose it,” she said, while saying that the row over illegal migrants has been used to damage the “image” and economy of France.

The leader of the city that is home to one of the most notorious migrant camps in France — which earned the moniker of the ‘Calais Jungle’ — called upon the British government to “take responsibility”. She said the British should establish “reception centres” for asylum seekers on the French side of the Channel, to expedite the asylum process.

France has so far been largely unwilling to prevent migrants from setting sail to Britain. The French Navy has gone as far as to assist migrant vessels into British territorial waters, where they are picked up by UK Border Force and brought ashore to be processed by immigration officials.

The French government has reportedly demanded that the British government pay an additional £30 million in exchange for France better patrolling the route, and immediately returning migrants to Dunkirk in northern France. The payment would be in addition to the £100 million sent to the French since 2015.

To date, there have been over 4,100 illegal migrants recorded to have made the journey across the Channel, ultimately reaching Britain. However, as the figure only reflects those migrants who are caught and the Home Office no longer counts migrants who are allegedly under the age of 18 in the official toll, the true number is likely higher.

A migrant charity worker in France told The Sun: “We’ve spoken to people intercepted en route to the UK who have told us how babies and infants are getting into dinghies for free. Younger children and teenagers are being allowed on for just a few hundred pounds a time.”

“The prices these gangmasters charge has dropped a hell of a lot recently,” the source explained, adding: “They are also tempting people by saying if you get stopped, you can try again and again until you do cross.”

Migration Watch UK has warned that if the current trends continue, then they estimate that there will be over 7,500 illegal boat migrants reaching Britain by Christmas.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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