Three-Quarters of Britons See Illegal Migration in Channel as Serious Issue

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 traveled in small boats across the English channel, …
Leon Neal/Getty Images

The majority of the British public believes that illegal immigration is a “serious” issue, as record numbers of boat migrants pour into the country after crossing the English Channel from France.

A poll from YouGov that was released on Thursday showed that nearly three-quarters of Britons, 73 per cent, feel that illegal migration is a serious problem. Of those, 45 per cent see the issue as “very serious”, and 28 per cent see it as “somewhat serious”.

This is compared to just 21 per cent who feel illegal migration is “not serious”, 13 per cent who say it is not “very serious”, and eight per cent who think that it is “not serious at all”.

Opinions on illegal migration still largely fall along partisan lines, with 97 per cent of Conservative voters seeing the issue as a serious concern, as opposed to Labour voters, of which 49 per cent see it as a serious to 45 per cent who do not.

Commenting on the poll, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said on Friday: “These figures show how out of touch our politicians are. Mainstream media even more clueless. People care about this issue.”

Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, Matthew Goodwin, said in response to the poll that “immigration has fallen down the list in British politics since Brexit. It might be about to climb back up.”

So far this year, an estimated 4,500 illegal migrants have been recorded to have successfully reached Britain by crossing the English Channel. However, the true number is most likely much higher, as it only reflects those actually caught. The Home Office has also stopped publishing the number of migrants under the age of 18, further driving down the figure.

The YouGov poll also found that over two-thirds of the British public are in favour of using the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Royal Navy to combat illegal immigration, which has been described by Nigel Farage as an “invasion”.

As a whole, 69 per cent of Brits are in favour of RAF planes assisting the Border Force, with 71 per cent saying they would support the government sending the Royal Navy into the Channel to prevent illegal migrants from sailing from France.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s administration has sent RAF planes to the Channel, the government has yet to deploy the Royal Navy to deter crossings. The idea of sending naval vessels to the Channel has drawn considerable push back from the French, with the mayor of Calais claiming that it would be tantamount to declaring “maritime war”.

The UK has been trying to reach an agreement with France that would see illegals immediately returned to France, as opposed to the current state of affairs, which typically sees the French Navy escort migrants into British territorial waters and hand them over to UK Border Force, who takes them ashore and allows the illegal migrants to claim for asylum.

So far, there has been no indication that the French will agree to a deal that would see migrants sent back to the safe, first world, and wealthy country, where, under international law, asylum seekers must remain.

A separate poll conducted by Redfield & Wilton Strategies for iNews found that the vast majority of Brits also feel that illegal boat migrants should not be allowed to stay in the UK, with 63 per cent in favour of their removal opposed to 21 per cent that said they should be able to stay.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka


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