Poll: Britons Reject Idea UK Has Responsibility for Illegal Boat Migrants

DOVER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 11: Migrants arrive in port aboard a Border Force vessel after being intercepted while crossing the English Channel from France in small boats on August 11, 2020 in Dover, England. In recent weeks large numbers of migrants have travelled in small boats across the English channel, …
Leon Neal/Getty Images

The British public believes that the United Kingdom is not responsible for illegal boat migrants crossing the English Channel from France, a poll has found.

According to YouGov, only one-third of Britons (35 per cent) believe that their country has a responsibility to accept illegal immigrants, compared to 50 per cent who think that the country should not be responsible for them.

The poll also found that nearly half of the British public, 49 per cent, have little (22 per cent) or no sympathy (27 per cent) for the migrants attempting to reach England’s shores from France. Just 44 per cent have a fair amount (25 per cent) or a great deal (19 per cent) of sympathy.

When taken generally, 46 per cent of Brits think that the United Kingdom has “done more than our fair share to accommodate refugees” who have arrived in Europe. Just 20 per cent believe the country has “done less than our fair share”.

The poll comes amidst a feverish attempt by migrants to reach Britain before the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of the year.

So far in 2020, over 4,100 migrants have successfully reached Britain by crossing the English Channel from France in small rubber boats, often with the assistance of the French Navy and the UK Border Force. This is compared to 1,890 for the entire year of 2019.

The chairman of the immigration-sceptic think tank Migration Watch UK, Alp Mehmet, said on Wednesday that the only solution to the growing problem is to “make it clear that if you cross the Channel in a dinghy — if you come across illegally — then you simply won’t be granted asylum and you are going to be returned.”

A previous poll from YouGov in July found that just 23 per cent of the British public feel that the nominally Conservative government under Prime Minister Boris Johnson is performing “well” on immigration, compared to 62 per cent who thought that the government is performing “badly” — up from 44 per cent in March.

On Tuesday, Britain’s Immigration Minister, Chris Philp, held a meeting with his French counterparts in Paris to discuss the increased waves of illegal boat migration.

Philp travelled to France to secure a deal that would see illegal migrants immediately returned to the European Union member-state, but no such agreement was reached.

The minister did say that the two sides came to an agreement on a vaguely termed “join operational plan”, which he claims will seek to “completely cut this route” of illegal migration.

“We are going to be working at pace in the coming days to make that plan a reality,” he said per The Sun, without providing any details.

Mr Philp also did not rule out sending more money to France in return for stopping the migrant boats from reaching British shores. Since 2015, the British taxpayer has already paid the wealthy country £100 million to tackle the problem.

Responding to the meeting with France, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: “Immigration minister Chris Philp (who nobody has ever even heard of) had meetings in Paris today and says we now have an action plan that will counter illegal crossings.”

“Don’t hold your breath folks,” Farage quipped.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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