Crossing the English Channel in a small boat across the world’s busiest shipping lane and in in the hands of criminal gangs is incredibly dangerous and it’s vital these journeys are brought to an end. That’s why ending the Channel crossings is the compassionate, common sense and responsible thing to do. So far this year more than 10,000 people have entered Britain in small boats. The total figure in 2021 was over 28,400, treble the number of people from 2020. This is organised crime, plain and simple. It has mushroomed from a handful of people just a few years ago to flotillas of boats arriving on peak days.
Residents in Dover and Deal often tell me how concerned they are that so many lives have been lost to a watery grave or how worried they are about this blatant criminality. Many worry about the impact on housing availability. Others worry about the cost to the public purse. The accommodation bill alone, made up of hotels, bed and breakfast and other support, is reported to be an eye-watering £4.7million a day. That’s unsustainable and unfair on taxpayers who are also struggling to make ends meet. To be clear, none of those views expressed to me are at odds with the desire and commitment to help those in need, who are fleeing for their lives. As we have seen with Ukraine, ours is a generous and welcoming community. The UK takes a leading role in providing places of safety near conflict zones, including directly airlifting the most vulnerable to resettle in the UK. But people who get into small boats are safe. France is a safe country, as are many other countries before France. People should not be getting into small boats in the first place. That is why it is disappointing to see the European Court interfere when the High Court , Court of Appeal and Supreme Court all upheld the legality of the Government’s agreement with Rwanda.
There are a small but noisy group of people who believe that anyone has a right to choose to go anywhere they please. To my mind, that’s dangerous and irresponsible. It does, however, reflect a particular political view. Our democracy provides the processes for resolving different political views and priorities. In recent years we have seen decisions made by our democratically elected Government and laws duly passed by Parliament challenged, and in some cases thwarted, by political activism being exercised through the Courts. That’s got to brought back into balance.
Of course, the courts have a valid and important role in overseeing the laws of the land. But where laws enacted by Parliament are being misused to further activities that unreasonably disrupt everyday lives of others, to stop serious and violent foreign criminals being removed from our country, or to thwart attempts to end the small boats crossings, then it is right for our Government and Parliament to act to ensure those laws are effective and protective, of human life, human rights and our country.