For years the Calais migrant camp has grown. The number of people crammed into the so-called "Jungle" has now swelled to a shocking 9,000.
For years hard-working truckers have had their journeys to the Port of Calais disrupted by evil people traffickers. The lengths they will take to stop lorries so migrants can get on board become ever more extreme – from setting fire to trucks, to lobbing petrol bombs, to cutting down trees to block the route and threatening drivers with chainsaws and machetes. The current situation is shameful. Last week I met with truckers in Calais faced with these daily attacks. They agreed that Britain and France must work together to dismantle the Jungle camp.
For years the French and British Governments have tried in vain to tackle the ever-growing problem. They have built fences to keep migrants away from the docks – but the attacks on trucks now just occur further down the road. They have built containers for migrants to stay in – and thousands more have arrived. These attempts at ending the chaos have only targeted the symptoms. It is now time to tackle the cause of this crisis and build a better future for Calais and Dover.
Dismantling the camp will remove this magnet for migrants, conned into heading for Calais by evil people traffickers. These ruthless gangs take thousands of pounds from vulnerable people to get them to Calais. Some are smuggled into Britain to a future in brothels or fruit fields where they will work to pay off huge debts to the people traffickers. It is a form of modern day slavery. We need far greater and tougher action to tackle these traffickers. They must be caught and jailed – put behind bars for at least 20 years and have all of their assets seized. We urgently require a new Dover Patrol to guard the Channel and catch the people traffickers. Let's protect our truckers and the vital trade they carry between Britain and France.
Some French politicians have talked about scrapping the Le Touquet treaty, which establishes British border checks at Calais. But the French know just as well as we do that maintaining these juxtaposed border controls are as much in their interest as ours. Axing the treaty altogether would be a disaster for France and Britain. It would simply force the ferries and tunnel to become border guards - meaning higher ticket prices and longer queues.
And enabling people to apply for UK asylum from France would be a big mistake. It would just make Calais a greater magnet for migrants.
It's time to negotiate a new, stronger deal with France. Let's restore order at the border by dismantling the Calais Jungle camp, smashing the modern day slavery peddled by evil people smugglers and protecting our truckers.
Britain and France must work together to deal with the causes of this crisis once and for all.
Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!