Ending the small boats crisis will save lives

Last weekend’s tragic drowning of six migrants close to France was another sad reminder of the danger and human cost of the small boats crossings.   

As we can all see, these criminal gangs don’t care about the safety of people using the small boats. They pack people into the cheapest unseaworthy craft so they can make as much money as possible.   

It’s even more shocking because no-one should be making these journeys in the first place. No-one should be leaving the safety of land in France. The only way to prevent further loss of life in the Channel is for these treacherous small boats crossings to be brought to an end for good.   

There are those who say people taking the small boats are fleeing in fear of their lives and they have a ‘right’ to come to the UK. This is untrue and risks fuelling the crisis. The reality is they are already safe in France. France is a safe country – asylum can be claimed there. Asylum can be claimed in many safe countries before France.   

This is why there is no need for anyone ever to get into flimsy and dangerous dinghies. Nor should anyone be paying criminal gangs to come to the UK illegally.   It’s not just the UK that is struggling with illegal entrants. Many successful countries in the EU and around the World have similar challenges. Across the developed World, there are an increasing number of people who are prepared to enter countries unlawfully – and criminal gangs willing to help them do it.   

But there are also many who apply for entry in the right way. Anyone wanting to work or study or bring family members to the UK can apply for a visa. Hundreds of thousands of people do just that every year.  

In fact over 600,000 people were legally processed and allowed into the UK last year alone in net migration. Of the many failings of the Home Office, no-one should be in any doubt that they are fully capable of issuing visas in vast numbers. The idea that it is difficult to get a visa to come to the UK is simply nonsense.  

Indeed, many constituents tell me they think legal and illegal immigration numbers are both too high. They say that our public and health services are overstretched, taxes are too high and there simply isn’t enough housing.  

The only way to stop this loss of life in the Channel is to bring the small boats crisis to an end. As was seen in Australia, the higher the numbers of migrants crossing, the higher the death toll. By taking robust action, Australia slashed the numbers of deaths from thousands to a handful. They succeeded in stopping the boats. That’s what we need to do too – not just because we need to protect our borders, but because it’s the compassionate thing to stop further tragedies and save lives.




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