Farage Watched French Navy Abandon Struggling Migrant Vessel in English Channel

An aerial photo shows migrants in a dinghy wearing life jackets as they illegally cross the English Channel from France to Britain on September 11, 2020. - The number of migrants crossing the English Channel -- which is 33,8 km (21 miles) at the closest point in the Straits of …
SAMEER AL-DOUMY/AFP via Getty Images

Nigel Farage, a Telegraph journalist, and a fishing boat captain were witnesses to the French Navy escorting into British waters a vessel full of migrants bailing water and return to France without the coastguard or UK Border Force in sight.

On Wednesday, Mr Farage released a short video detailing how he had watched the French navy escort a boat full of illegal aliens out of French waters into British territory.

Releasing more footage on Thursday, the Brexit Party leader revealed that not only had the French Navy shadowed the migrant vessel, but dropped one of its own RIBs — a rigid-hulled inflatable boat with an outboard motor — and travelled out to the migrant dinghy to give those aboard life jackets and water.

“Now they’re about 200 yards from British waters. As soon as they [the migrants] cross the line, the French RIB will go back to the mother warship,” he said.

They are “going back at full speed to the mother ship. There is the French RIB. They’ve done their job, they’re in British waters, no longer French responsibility,” Farage said.

Mr Farage then waved off the small French vessel, sarcastically calling out: “Thank you so much! Very good of you! We’re very grateful!”

However, Mr Farage observed that apart from his small fishing vessel, there was no Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), coastguard, or UK Border Force craft in sight. With winds rising, the water becoming choppy, and with the small, overloaded vessel taking on water, Farage and the rest of the crew decided to shadow it in case of distress.

“Here’s the extraordinary thing: before, I filmed handovers when the French escorted boats over the line to be picked up by RNLI or by Border Force. But in this situation, we are the only boat in the vicinity, you can see the conditions, the wind is getting up. What do the French do? They put their RIB in the water, they gave them all lifejackets, water, and simply let them go.”

Mr Farage criticised the French for “dumping” the migrants, even after it was clear that “no one on that boat has any navigation skills whatsoever, they haven’t got a clue where the UK is, [and] they can’t steer”, putting their lives in peril.

“The French today have behaved appallingly,” Mr Farage said.

Aboard the fishing boat with Mr Farage was Telegraph journalist Jamie Johnson, who also watched as the French Navy abandoned the migrant vessel in the English Channel once it passed out of French waters.

Mr Johnson observed how those aboard were “struggling against the wind in their dangerously overloaded inflatable” and were “in need of assistance” while still “a mile inside French territorial waters”. He said that “instead of bringing the wet and shivering group on board and returning them to France, the French vessel shepherded the boat towards British waters, where they promptly abandoned it: a practice the French have long been accused of doing, but which has never been independently witnessed by a journalist, until now”.

Meanwhile, the captain of Farage’s and Johnson’s vessel told The Telegraph: “They would have gone under if we hadn’t have been there.”

“What the French did was a disgrace,” he added.

This would not be the first time that French authorities have dumped unwanted migrants in neighbouring countries. In 2018, France admitted that its officials had dropped off illegals in the forest of an Italian border town. Italian authorities later claimed that France was also leaving minor migrants on Italy’s doorstep, as well.

Mr Farge also told The Telegraph: “I am pretty certain that if we hadn’t been there, that boat would have gone down, because the wind was getting up and the French didn’t even tell the British authorities it was there.

“I’m completely opposed to this cross channel trade in illegal migrants, but at the end of the day, there were 16 Afghans in that boat and they’re still people. Today was a pretty poor show.”

Both the Home Office and French authorities claimed to the newspaper that France had called in the migrant boat arrival to the UK. However, the captain of the fishing boat, who called it in, told The Telegraph that he was told no such notification was received.

Later writing for the publication, Mr Farage said: “Having witnessed this episode, it is clear to me that that there has been a complete breakdown in trust between our two countries. As the Brexit transition process comes to an end, this has serious implications.

“One of the biggest problems now openly acknowledged by the Home Secretary Priti Patel is the EU’s Dublin regulations. Under these rules, if an illegal immigrant who has passed through any European country without lodging an asylum claim there then crosses the Channel successfully, Britain is unable to send them back to France.”

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