Calais Mayor warns UK as migrants cross Channel for tenth day in a row

Sending the Navy to deal with migrants crossing the English Channel would amount to a ‘declaration of maritime war’, the Mayor of Calais has warned. 

For an unprecedented tenth day in a row, more overladen small boats attempted the perilous sea crossing today, as favourable weather conditions continue to lead to hundreds of people trying to reach Dover. 

The Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed to make it ‘unviable’ for migrants to cross in this way and the government has asked for more military assistance beyond the RAF planes that have been deployed so far. 

These proposals, which include sending the Navy to patrol the Channel, have been met with alarm in France. 

Speaking to French television yesterday, Calais’ Mayor Natacha Bouchart said her city should not have to continue to suffer economically and in terms of image and humanitarian reception. 

She said: ‘The British government should take care of its own responsibilities. We in Calais no longer want to be permanent hostages enduring the lectures of British leaders.’

In further developments, Ms Patel has told Tory MPs she thinks the asylum system is ‘broken’ because ‘leftie Labour-supporting lawyers’ are doing everything they can to stop the government removing people, The Times reports.

A legal challenge was launched this week in a bid to halt the deportation of a group of asylum seekers who arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats in the past few days. 

Up to 20 people were due to be put on a charter flight to France and Germany on Wednesday, according to campaigners.

Hours before the flight was due to take off, the Duncan Lewis law firm said that the 19 people it was representing had all had their removals deferred by the Home Office, or stayed by a court.

The Home Office confirmed the flight did take off anyway, carrying 14 passengers. 

Meanwhile Kent County Council has said it could be just ‘days away’ from being unable to look after more asylum seeking children arriving on its shores.

In Dover this morning more suspected migrants including children arrived on Border Force’s patrol boat Speedwell.

They were taken ashore by immigration officials where they will be assessed for symptoms of coronavirus, as is protocol.

Border Force cutter Seeker and French border patrol boat Scarpe have also been active in the Channel on Thursday.

It comes after 71 migrants arrived in the UK yesterday, travelling aboard six boats.

Hundreds of migrants have crossed the dangerous waters of the Channel in the last 10 days. The numbers peaked on August 6 when 235 made it to the UK – a single-day record.

Ms Patel’s newly appointed Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, Dan O’Mahoney, said: ‘These crossings are dangerous and unnecessary and I am determined to stop them.

‘The minister and I met with French officials in Paris on Tuesday for discussions on how to advance joint working on making the small boats route for illegal migration unviable.

‘We will continue to go after the heinous criminals and organised crime networks putting people’s lives at risk.’

The Government’s handling of migrant crossings came under fire from Labour, which accused it of lacking ‘competence and compassion’.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said on Wednesday that it had resulted in thousands risking their lives in dangerous waters.

In a letter to Ms Patel, Mr Thomas-Symonds said ministers must provide solutions rather than ‘empty headlines’ to tackle the issue.

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