18 AUG 2016

Stronger, safer borders will boost our economy and international trade

The problems we have suffered with gridlock in East Kent and Dover is damaging to the national economies of both Britain and France. Last year's Summer of disruption in Kent cost the UK economy £1 Billion. Yet the activities of people-traffickers and continued existence of the Jungle at Calais also takes a heavy toll on the economies of both nations. The regular problems at the border underline the need to see new action to promote international trade through borders that are safe and secure.

Recent events make it increasingly clear more needs to be done to counter people-trafficking, protect lorries travelling across the English Channel and the Calais Jungle needs to be cleared. The Government should seek a new agreement with France to tackle the problems, while boosting international trade across the English Channel.

Following a spate of attacks at Calais, it's urgent to ensure that lorries have greater protection at Calais. We need to stop people breaking into Britain, and fitting lorries with anti people-trafficking devices would help do that. The Driver Buddy detection device invented by local entrepreneurs is a great example of the sort of system that will detect people hiding in the backs of lorries. The Government should be doing more to incentivise the adoption of on board smuggling detection devices like the Driver Buddy.

There needs to be a greater focus on countering the people traffickers. Our border is in Calais. So our border officers can catch people being smuggled in lorries at the UK's Calais controls. This they do with much success. The people they catch are handed over to the French Police. Unfortunately the French Police simply release them to have another go. This has got to change. It's important we work with France to ensure people-traffickers and people being trafficked are detained in France rather than released to have another go.

The Calais Jungle is a magnet for people-traffickers who exploit the most vulnerable. The French Police are also concerned that it is a magnet for terrorists too. The time has come for the Jungle to be cleared. This needs to be a priority for Britain and France. This way we can counter the people-traffickers and better protect the most vulnerable people who are in the Jungle and similar camps in Northern France

It's a big worry that lorries bound for Britain have been subjected to attacks at Calais. There needs to be more protection for lorry drivers. Lorries and our international trade need to be able to pass safely through the border without let or hindrance.

We are leaving the EU. Yet our closest trading partner will always be France. It's in the interest of Calais and Dover, France and Britain that the Jungle is cleared and the people-traffickers are defeated. That's why there needs to be a strong agreement with France that will have stronger borders and the promotion of international trade at its heart.

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Charlie Elphicke

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