Bexhill and Battle MP, Huw Merriman, this week called in Parliament for the Government to use the ‘full force of the law’ to halt asylum seekers from risking their lives crossing the English Channel from France.
The MP asked the Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, to have ‘the vulnerable people in mind’ and put pressure on the French authorities to break up the people trafficker gangs who are preying on asylum seekers.
In the House of Commons the MP said ‘If we send out the wrong signal to people that they can make this perilous journey, I am afraid that more and more of them will lose their lives and be taken advantage of by despicable people." The MP went on to warn that ‘"I represent an East Sussex English Channel constituency, and I am afraid that we will be left to deal with the aftermath".
In response, the Immigration Minister reassured the MP that the Government will "continue to keep up the pressure on organised crime gangs" and explained that "The National Crime Agency had made a total of 24 arrests in relation to the small boats threat". The Minister also reported that the French had disrupted 40% of attempted crossings.
Speaking afterwards, the MP added "At the end of May, a record 74 people were intercepted in the Channel on one day alone. This is a growing problem and we must put pressure on the French authorities to increase their own rate of detection and interception. I am proud of the way in which we deliver record amounts of overseas aid to help people stay in their own region. It may seem kind to offer asylum to people from around the world but if we do so to those who cross what is the marine equivalent of the M25, we will end up killing people with our kindness. I am glad that my call to use the full legal powers was accepted. It is here in East Sussex where we will be impacted if we do not double-down on this issue."