Investing in our border security

Attempts to break into Britain are becoming ever more brazen. We must remain vigilant here at the Dover frontline – because these dangerous incidents will only stop when traffickers know they will not succeed.

Just the other week, hundreds of migrants stormed a ferry docked at the Port of Calais. Dozens clambered aboard and a small group scaled the funnel. Others hid inside the ship. It must have been a terrifying experience for the crew. The French authorities need to explain how on earth such a shocking security lapse took place.

They also need to get a grip of their militant unions. Last week a strike in France caused chaos at the border. French officers decided to needlessly enforce regulations in pedantic detail. This was about pay and conditions and nothing to do with Brexit. It is surely time they found a less disruptive way of conducting workplace negotiations – one which doesn't undermine our border security. Lorries were left queuing 15 miles back as far as Dunkirk, as groups of migrants gathered nearby waiting to sneak aboard.

These incidents risk making Calais a migrant magnet once again. We will never forget the horrors of the Jungle – a desolate place where vulnerable people lived in squalor. For the truckers it was like running a gauntlet, with burning branches thrown across the highway and traffickers revving chainsaws by the side of the road.
That's why I fought so hard to get rid of it once and for all. The French authorities finally caved in and by the end of 2016 the camp was dismantled. We must never allow it to return. Not just for our security – but to protect people from the traffickers seeking to exploit them for the evil trade.

Because as we have seen with the recent spike in crossings in small boats, the traffickers don't care a jot for people's safety. Women and children – even toddlers – have been crammed into unseaworthy vessels, then kicked into the Channel in the most appalling weather conditions.

Our campaign to put a stop to it has been vital. Home Secretary Sajid Javid accepted my invitation to visit Dover, where he was able to see first-hand how our heroic lifeboat crews, Border Force and emergency services work tirelessly along the coast. He soon agreed to have Border Force cutters returned from the Mediterranean, re-assigning other patrol boats in the meantime. He then met his French counterpart and struck a joint agreement, which included sending unsuccessful asylum seekers back to France.

Yet there is much more to do. I want to see the English Channel made a joint UK/France security zone with round the clock aerial surveillance, so migrants can be picked up in French waters and returned safely to France. Because unless we send a powerful message that you cannot break into Britain, traffickers are encouraged and the migrant crisis will escalate. As will the risk of a tragedy in the Channel.

We must do more. Investing in our border security should be a national priority.