What the commentators said
It’s shameful that the Jungle has been allowed to “fester” for so long, said Benedict Spence in The Independent. Why are these migrants only now being processed? France is a “wealthy, developed and civilised European nation”. It, and other EU countries the migrants passed through, should have dealt with these people long ago – whether by deporting or resettling them – so that they weren’t left to languish in a dirty, dangerous shanty town. Delaying the process caused needless hardship. By creating a potent “image of European incompetence”, it probably also played a part in the Brexit result. One can only hope that this week’s intervention heralds a “sea change” in the official response. The fear, though, is that “another lawless camp will pop up somewhere else in the Calais area, and the desperate cycle of Europe’s untouchables will keep on spinning”. We’ve been here before, said Heaven Crawley on The Conversation. Back in 2002, the Sangatte camp outside Calais was dismantled and its inhabitants dispersed. But that didn’t stop desperate migrants trying to make their way to the UK, and nor will this week’s action. The Jungle might not return to Calais, where the fence that has been built to stop people getting on trains and lorries heading across the Channel is being “extended and reinforced at the expense of the British taxpayer”, but another camp will appear somewhere. The French have mishandled this problem, said Sarah Baxter in The Sunday Times, but the UK has hardly been more efficient. It was back in May, after all, that David Cameron – following pleas from Lord Dubs, whose life was saved by the “Kindertransport” for Jewish children fleeing Nazi Europe – announced that Britain would take in vulnerable child refugees. Yet only now have we accepted any. There’s little evidence of a “rational, well-planned immigration policy” in this country. That’s a particular worry now that French politicians are talking of ripping up the 2003 Le Touquet treaty, which allows UK immigration controls to be carried out in Calais. We’re going to need a proper plan when the “Jungle arrives in Kent”.