Last week I addressed Parliament on border controls at Dover. I spoke about three areas of concern for our community – illegal entry of people, legal transit of people and goods, and illegal, dangerous, food and goods.
This weekend saw another surge in small boats crossings. I spoke to the Home Secretary about Sunday’s illegal landings on Dover’s beaches. There is much more to do to protect and secure our sea border and I am determined that we take more action on this.
We need to recognise that every person coming into Britain through this route is breaking the law. This is organised criminal activity. It is no different from smuggling drugs, guns or any other contraband. It is also dangerous as Winter approaches with the weather becoming colder and the seas rougher.
The bottom line is that it is only when migrants and people smugglers alike know that they can’t break into Britain through the Channel will this route be closed down, and lives saved. That will only happen when Britain and France act in concert – jointly patrolling the French coast and the English Channel. Jointly ensuring that illegal entrants are returned.
I also raised in Parliament the importance of supporting trade and tourism when new European checks come in next year, as well as the need to invest in our road network and border facilities. I also drew attention to the work of Dover’s excellent port health team in tackling dangerous food and dodgy goods entering the UK.
There have been two shocking reports from the Port Health authority in May and October this year about dangerous food and biosecurity concerns The October report was about a special operation over a 24 hour period where 22 vehicles of Romanian, Moldovan, Ukrainian and Polish origin were searched. In these vehicles were discovered raw animal products, loosely stored in carrier bags and paper tissue – without temperature control, refrigeration or labelled identification. These products were not separated from ready to eat products such as cheese, crisps and cake.
It’s clear that the risk of maggoty meat, meat of unknown origin which could be horse or other illegal meat, rotting meat due to the lack of temperature controls, as well as fresh blood dripping onto other products, is a real concern. It’s not just meat. Pesticides on Eastern European flax seeds, the sort to sprinkle on your cereal, have been found exceeding the maximum level for UK food safety.
None of this food meets EU requirements and shouldn’t be coming in. It is illegal for the UK market. It highlights why we need robust food and biosecurity controls at the border. Dover stands as both a guardian and gateway to Europe. I’ll keep making the case for the border investment we need in roads, facilities, systems and staffing to keep our country safe, our borders strong and trade moving.