Lead to more mi­grants, warns UK govern­ment

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

in­te­rior min­is­ters David Blun­kett and Ni­co­las Sarkozy fol­low­ing a se­ries of ri­ots at the San­gatte mi­grant camp near Calais.

The treaty al­lowed for joint Bri­tish and French bor­der con­trols in Chan­nel ports in France, eas­ing the pres­sure on Bri­tain’s bor­der force that came from the thou­sands of mi­grants from San­gatte who were mak­ing daily at­tempts to board Chan­nel Tun­nel trains.

“There are any num­ber of op­po­si­tion politi­cians in France who would love to tear up the ex­cel­lent agree­ment we have with France,” Cameron said af­ter a speech later in the day.

“I don’t think we should give those politi­cians any ex­cuse to do that,” he added.

Many in north­ern France be­lieve that get­ting rid of Bri­tish bor­der con­trols in France would mean the end of con­tro­ver­sial mi­grant camps like the “Jun­gle” in Calais as well as eas­ing the bur­den on French po­lice.

Xavier Ber­trand, the newly-elected head of the north­ern French re­gion that in­cludes the port of Calais, said the Bri­tish govern­ment’s com­ments meant that re­vis­ing the treaty was “no longer taboo”.

Ber­trand, from the op­po­si­tion Repub­li­cans party, hailed the com­ments as “a turn­ing point”.

If Bri­tain were to leave the Euro­pean Union “they would au­to­mat­i­cally take the bor­der back. If they stay, we can­not re­main as we are,” he added.

The warn­ing about mi­grants ar­riv­ing in Kent was de­scribed as a political move by Cameron ahead of the ref­er­en­dum.

“Ar­gu­ments to this ef­fect are likely to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the cam­paign, on both sides of the ref­er­en­dum ques­tion,” said Mar­ley Mor­ris of think tank IPPR.

“But our re­search sug­gests that claims that EU mi­gra­tion will re­main high or in­crease in the event of Brexit do not wash with the pub­lic.”

Cameron’s words were quickly con­tested by the anti-EU cam­paign­ers, who said the bor­der deal would not be af­fected by the coun­try’s EU mem­ber­ship sta­tus.

Ar­ron Banks, co-founder of the Leave.EU cam­paign, ac­cused Cameron of “scare­mon­ger­ing”.

“The agree­ment we have to process mi­grants in Calais is with France, not the EU. There is no rea­son for this to change on leav­ing the EU,” he said.

Im­mi­gra­tion is the cen­tral is­sue for many Bri­tons in the de­bate over whether Bri­tain should stay or leave the Euro­pean Union ahead of an in-or-out ref­er­en­dum ex­pected to be held later this year.

Re­cent opin­ion polls in­di­cate that more Bri­tons want to leave than want to stay and ex­perts say at­ti­tudes have hard­ened in re­ac­tion to Europe’s mi­grant cri­sis.

Rob White­man, a for­mer head of the UK Bor­der Agency, sup­ported Cameron by say­ing Brexit would mean “al­most cer­tainly” that France would end the treaty.

“There has been lots of up­sides for the UK since the treaty was ne­go­ti­ated in 2003, not much up­side for the French,” he told BBC ra­dio.

“Be­fore that treaty was put in place, asy­lum claims were run­ning at 80,000 a year in the UK. They are now run­ning at about 30,000 a year so we would prob­a­bly see, let’s say, an­other 50,000 asy­lum claims a year which we used to get be­fore the treaty came in.”

Cameron promised to rene­go­ti­ate the UK’s re­la­tions with the EU. The rene­go­ti­a­tion will be fol­lowed by a ref­er­en­dum by the end of 2017, to de­cide whether or not the United King­dom should re­main in the EU.

If he achieves the re­forms, Cameron will cam­paign to stay in. Oth­er­wise, the Con­ser­va­tives might cam­paign to leave the EU.

This de­ci­sion could have far-reach­ing con­se­quences for trade, in­vest­ment and Great Bri­tain’s po­si­tion on the in­ter­na­tional scene.

Some other Euro­pean coun­tries are ready to lis­ten to Cameron’s con­cerns on is­sues such as im­mi­gra­tion, and may be pre­pared to make lim­ited con­ces­sions to keep Bri­tain in the bloc.

But EU lead­ers also have their red lines, and have ruled out chang­ing fun­da­men­tal EU prin­ci­ples, such as the free move­ment of work­ers, and a ban on dis­crim­i­nat­ing be­tween work­ers from dif­fer­ent EU states.

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