France Accuses UK of Running a ‘Quasi-Modern Slavery’ Economy for Illegal Migrants

DOVER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 25: Migrants sit on a bus awaiting transfer, after arriving at Dover port on November 25, 2021 in Dover, England. At least 31 people including five women and a young girl died trying to cross the Channel to the UK in an inflatable dinghy yesterday, in …
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A senior government official in France has accused the United Kingdom of operating an economic model in which illegal migrants are entered into a form of “modern slavery”.

The Europe Minister for France, Clément Beaune said on Monday accused Britain of being less stringent in the face of the exploitation of workers, enabling human traffickers to take advantage of the economic desires of illegal migrants to reach the UK.

“There is — let’s say it — an economic model of, sometimes, quasi-modern slavery or at least of illegal work that is very strong,” Beaune told the FranceInter radio station in comments translated by POLITICO.

“We’re asking the British to change their framework,” he continued, claiming that the exploitation of illegal migrants “is more prevalent in the U.K. [than in France] because there are fewer checks.”

“If the British are not going back to a certain number of checks, on more humane, more compliant labour market regulation, this attraction will remain,” Beaune added.

Other figures in the French government have made similar accusations, including  Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, who said on Monday that migrants are “attracted by England, especially the labour market which means you can work in England without any identification”.

“Britain must take its responsibility and limit its economic attractiveness,” Darmanin demanded.

While it is difficult to know the real rate of worker exploitation in Britain compared to France given the clandestine nature of the black market, there have been warnings that modern slavery and the human trafficking of migrants into the UK are related.

A report last year from the Centre for Social Justice think tank reported that there are an estimated 100,000 people working as slaves in the UK, with an estimated 10,000 slaves in the multicultural fast fashion hub of Leicester, alone.

The study found that migrants alongside other economically disadvantaged groups are the most likely to fall “prey to unscrupulous traffickers”.

Last year, French prosecutor Pascal Marconville claimed that illegal migrants attempt to mitigate the cost of crossing the English Channel through making labour pacts with human trafficking networks, paying off their debts as effective slaves in the UK for years after they land Britain.

“To lower the cost of their crossing, migrants can be employed in England by the criminal organisation with which they will be linked for years,” he said.

Britain’s equivalent to the FBI, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has also said of the modern slave trade that “without permission to work legally, migrants can be exploited and forced into modern slavery or turn to crime to support themselves.”

Brexit leader Nigel Farage has long criticised the government for failing to tackle the scourge of the trafficking to modern slavery pipeline, arguing earlier this year that it demonstrates that the mostly young men arriving in rubber boats from France are in fact “economic migrants, pursuing an economic dream.”

“They have deserted their families from their home countries and many of them will finish up as slaves or working in crime in Britain. We should be ashamed.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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