Author: SAM STEVENSON
SAJID JAVID will not “stand by” and permit “reckless” criminals to exploit migrants and place them in “grave danger”, he has insisted.
The Home Secretary used a newspaper column to stage his first major public intervention since he was forced to return from a safari holiday in South Africa. He conceded there were no “easy answers” to the English Channel migrant crisis. And he suggested many of the factors driving the situation are “outside our control”.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Javid admitted the “sharp increase in the number of migrants attempting to cross the Channel in small boats” has been “deeply concerning”.
He said: “The reasons behind the increased crossings are complicated and in many cases outside of our control.”
The ”treacherous” journeys are being fuelled by instability in the Middle East, organised crime, changes in visa routes and tighter security at Calais, Mr Javid explained.
He added: “Unfortunately there are no easy answers.
“While we have obligations to genuine asylum seekers we will not stand by and allow reckless criminals to take advantage of some of the most vulnerable people in our global society.”
The Home Secretary, who is tipped as a successor to Theresa May, also implied there will be increased surveillance, patrols and action to disrupt criminal gangs to try to tackle the issue.
Mr Javid’s words may be seen as a riposte to Tory MPs who used the Mail on Sunday to attack his approach.
The “blue-on-blue” onslaught was spearheaded by Dover MP Charlie Elphicke, who condemned the Home Secretary’s “half-hearted Dad’s Army type set-up”.
Mr Elphicke called for more patrol boats to be deployed in the Channel, and said: “For too long the Home Office has not been taking this seriously enough, and the crisis has continued to escalate.”
Six more Iranian men were found on a beach in Kent on Saturday after crossing the English Channel in a rigid-hulled inflatable boat, meaning that 100 have either been picked up at sea or made it to the UK since Christmas Eve.
In a further stinging blow, Tory MPs said last night that there is no detail in Mr Javid’s plans and claimed there is a “woeful” lack of urgency.
Mr Javid is due to hold a crisis meeting with senior Whitehall officials, Border Force and the National Crime Agency.
Hitting back at his critics, he told the Daily Mail: “We are working tirelessly and urgently to stop these journeys before innocent lives are lost on our shores.
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“There are a number of reasons behind the recent increase, many outside the UK’s control.
“There is no simple, single solution to the problem – which is why we are taking an international as well as domestic approach.”
He added: “I utterly condemn the reckless acts and criminal activity which are endangering life.
“I and my French counterpart are clear that we must stop it.”
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Lucy Moreton, a spokesman for the Immigration Services Union, said it was “very difficult to know” how much the French authorities were doing.
She said: “We are being told that those touting for these crossings are absolutely open about it.
“They are around and about in the camps, they are in the cafes in Calais.
“If it’s that obvious to journalists and staff in those areas, then presumably it is obvious to the French authorities too.”