Local MP Welcomes commitment from the Home Secretary to make Channel route unviable for illegal small boat crossings

Sally-Ann Hart MP has welcomed the commitment from Home Secretary Priti Patel that the Government is stepping up its efforts to crack down on the unacceptably high number of illegal small boat crossings in the English Channel.

During a zoom call with local MP Sally-Ann Hart and the Home Secretary today, she said that she recognises the concerns that people in Hastings and Rye have, and that she remains resolute in her commitment to tackle these crossings and make the Channel crossing unviable for illegal migrants.

To date, the National Crime Agency, Border Force and the Police have been working closely with French authorities to crack down on the criminals who facilitate these dangerous crossings, with 11 people suspected of organising crossings arrested in a single day last month. The UK Government is also funding patrols on the beaches of northern France to prevent migrants from crossing in the first place.

The Home Secretary has assured Sally-Ann Hart that there is more that the Government can and will do. She has set out a two-fold plan to make the Channel route unviable. This includes:

· Stopping the boats leaving France in the first place – in particular by urging to French authorities to ensure that migrants who are caught attempting to reach the UK by boat are taken away from Calais to prevent them from trying again, with the option of seeking protecting in France or returning to their home country.

· Intercepting and returning anyone attempting to make a crossing – the Government is pushing the French to consider interceptions at sea and has offered to work with the French on joint exercises to demonstrate how boats can be returned safely.

The Home Secretary also said that after the UK leaves the EU transition period at the end of 2020, the Government will no longer be bound by EU laws and will be free to negotiate its own returns agreement. This will mean an end to the current inflexible and rigid asylum regime that is abused by both migrants and activist lawyers to frustrate the returns of those who have no right to be here. Instead the Government will create a new asylum system that is balanced and fair, protecting it from abuse but ensuring the most vulnerable people who are genuinely in need of our help, can receive the protection they need.

Whilst the Home Secretary conceded that it will not be an easy task – with legislative, legal and operational barriers to be overcome – she has assured Sally-Ann Hart that under her leadership, the Government will do everything in its power to achieve this task and stop these crossings.

Commenting, Sally-Ann Hart said:

“The number of illegal small boat crossings we are seeing is unacceptably high. This is an issue that deeply concerns me, and I fully share the anger and horror that people across Hastings and Rye have as well.

“That is why I am delighted to have a received this commitment from the Home Secretary that she is doing all in her power to stop these boats from crossing the Channel, including pressing the French to take firmer enforcement action, cracking down on the people smugglers who facilitate this crime, and increasing enforcement activities to return anyone who does attempt to make the crossing.

“This is a complex issue that does not have any straightforward solution – but I am reassured that the Government is taking robust action to end this unacceptable situation as well as cracking on illegal immigration in all its forms.”