Using Royal Navy to tackle migrant crossings is 'declaration of maritime war' says Calais mayor

12 August 2020, 21:27

More migrants wearing face masks and orange life-jackets were seen coming into Dover port aboard Border Force vessels on Wednesday
More migrants wearing face masks and orange life-jackets were seen coming into Dover port aboard Border Force vessels on Wednesday. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Sending the Royal Navy into the English Channel to deal with migrant crossings is a "declaration of maritime war", the mayor of Calais has said.

Natacha Bouchart told France 3 that the British Government must take responsibility and called on Priti Patel's French counterpart to push them on the issue.

Interviewed on a French beach, Ms Bouchart discussed the impact of the migrant crisis on her city.

Read more: RAF aircraft deployed to English Channel over migrant crossings

Read more: France and Britain agree £30m plan to make migrant boat crossings “unviable”

She was asked about the Home Office's formal request for military assistance to help tackle migrant crossings.

Ms Bouchart described it as a "declaration of maritime war," and said her city should not have to continue to suffer economically and in terms of image and humanitarian reception.

Ms Bouchard said that a financial package was not enough.

She said: "The British Government should take care of its own responsibilities.

"I am waiting for Gerald Darmanin to make the British stop this vacuum and to push the British Government to make decisions on its migration policy in its own territory.

"We in Calais no longer want to be permanent hostages enduring the lectures of British leaders."

More migrants wearing face masks and orange life-jackets were seen coming into Dover port aboard Border Force vessels on Wednesday.

After being brought ashore, they had their temperatures checked by officials in fluorescent vests.

Border Force and the RNLI continued to be active in the English Channel as they responded to attempted migrant crossings on Wednesday.

The Royal Air Force was also providing aerial support for the Border Force for the second time this week, with a Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flying from Kinloss Barracks in Scotland to monitor the situation in the English Channel.

A legal challenge was launched this week in a bid to halt the deportation of a group of asylum seekers who arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats.

Up to 20 people were due to be put on a charter flight to France and Germany on Wednesday, according to campaigners.

On Wednesday, the Duncan Lewis law firm said that the 19 people it was representing had all had their removals deferred by the Home Office, or stayed by a court.

The firm previously said it was representing people from Iran, Yemen, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan who had "strong claims for asylum and real reasons for wanting to stay in the UK" but had been told they were being deported.

A Duncan Lewis spokeswoman said: "While it is clearly good news that we ensured that 19 of our clients were not removed on the charter flight this morning, it should never have come to this in the first place.

"Our legal action acted as the last resort for these asylum seekers, many of whom are victims of torture, trafficking, and sexual assault - who should not have been on this plane in the first place."

But the Home Office said a flight left the UK on Wednesday carrying 14 people being "removed to France and Germany under the Dublin Regulation".

A spokesman said: "These flights are a key part of the UK's strategy to stop the illegally facilitated crossings from France to the UK."