The Coronavirus pandemic is without doubt the most serious crisis of our lifetimes. Yet we cannot allow life to stand still while we battle the virus – especially as it is now starting to come under control. It is important to ensure we continue to plan for the future. It is therefore right we start to focus again on our long term relationship with the EU after the end this year. Part of that is to put in place an immigration system that works for Britain.
So I welcome that this week the House of Commons moved forward with the Immigration Bill that will bring in a points based immigration system. A system that will ensure immigration is controlled and that we attract the skilled workforce we need not just from the EU but from around the world. A system that will encourage employers to invest in their employees while enabling people who have grown up in the UK to realise their full potential.
Yet with the right immigration policy, it is vital to have the right border security policy too. In our area we can look across the English Channel and see the twinkling lights of Calais. France is less than 21 miles away – three times closer than London. People traffickers and organised criminal gangs in Calais are active in seeking illegally to smuggle people across the English Channel and into Britain. These trafficking gangs squash migrants into dangerously overcrowded small boats for treacherous night-time crossings of the Channel.
I was pleased to accompany the Minister in December when we inspected the Dover Border Force operations at Dover Docks. I want to thank the men and women of our Dover Border Force together with the volunteers at Her Majesty’s Coastguard and the RNLI for the sterling work they do, day in and day out. Putting themselves in harm’s way and saving lives.
It is now time to bring these small boat journeys to an end. Because the Dover Straits is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, the weather in the Channel can be dangerous, and lives can be – and have already been – lost through this illegal activity.
That’s why I have been campaigning for increased action to stop these illegal journeys. For illegal entrants to be returned to France – and to be quarantined pending their return.
I welcome the action being taken by the Home Secretary in working with France to stop boats leaving French shores, for quarantining and to seek to return of any illegal entrants back to France.
Because everyone knows that best way to stop these crossings is for all illegal entrants to be returned. For only when migrants and traffickers alike know they will not succeed will they stop trying.