27 JAN 2017

In Calais four months after the Jungle was cleared

On Friday I went to Calais. I wanted to see for myself whether the French had kept their pledge to stop the Jungle migrant camp from returning.

For years they had allowed the camp to grow. By the summer of 2016 it was home to 10,000 people, including hundreds of children. And lurking in the shadows were criminal gangs preying on the vulnerable.

As the Jungle grew, so did the number of attacks on tourists and truckers on the approach road to the Port of Calais. Ruthless people traffickers, armed with anything from chainsaws to machetes, would launch burning trees across the road. They were putting people's lives at risk in reckless attempts to stop traffic so desperate migrants could clamber on board Dover-bound lorries.

No matter how many walls and fences were built, the problem never went away. It became clear the only way to tackle this problem would be to dismantle the camp for good.

So during the summer I fought harder than ever to get this done, working closely with the Calais authorities throughout. It was a long and hard battle yet we never gave in. And in October last year the French Government caved in and work to clear the Jungle finally began.

Britain took in hundreds of cold and starving children, meaning they had a roof over their head and a warm bed at Christmas. Vulnerable people living in the camp were moved to centres across France, where they have sanitation and running water in place of the squalor of the Jungle.

We also took action to tackle the number of people reaching our shores on small craft. Too often we saw migrants land on the beaches of Dover and Deal. Who knows how many were arriving undetected.

So security has been stepped up along our shore and the Jungle has been cleared. Yet the migrant crisis has not gone away. That's why I've been putting pressure on the French to make sure they stop any new camps from forming – before the first tent is pitched.

I was pleased to see on Friday that what was once a squalid camp of ramshackle tents and makeshift shops is now completely empty. It was hard to believe that just a few months ago, thousands of people were living here in awful conditions.

So far the French have succeeded in keeping Calais clear. Yet we must all remain vigilant. The Jungle must never be allowed to return.

And in Dover we must invest in building a modern border – fit for Brexit Britain. That means using state-of-the-art technology, data sharing and surveillance to tighten security while keeping trade free flowing.

My top priority is making Brexit work for Dover and Deal. We must start by strengthening our borders and working to make sure the Calais Jungle is gone for good.

1 comment

You should set that to Elgar
- Simon Finlay

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Charlie Elphicke

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