Chunnel boss warns of new migrant wave
THOUSANDS of migrants will try to get to Britain before the country leaves the EU, Eurotunnel bosses said last night.
The desperate rush is expected to spark a summer of trouble with holidaymakers and haulage firms caught in the chaos.
Eurotunnel chairman and chief executive Jacques Gounon claimed that the Anglo-French border would become a new “Berlin Wall” when the UK goes it alone.
The company yesterday unveiled a fleet of aerial drones with infrared cameras to spot trespassers trying to reach the UK.
Mr Gounon said migrants will see the Brexit vote as a threat to their chances of getting to the UK. He warned of extra pressure this summer to cross the Channel before Britain leaves the EU.
Experts had already forecast a repeat of the powder keg atmosphere that engulfed Calais last year.
Britain has an agreement with France – the Le Touquet Treaty – which allows British border controls to be set up on the Continent. The arrangement is not dependent on EU membership. But France is threatening to tear up the agreement, pushing the border back to Dover.
Uncertainty is seen as a window of opportunity for thousands of migrants living along the French coast.
Hauliers have told how gangs have turned northern France into the “Wild West”. Drivers have been threatened with scaffolding poles and trucks have been pelted with bottles and rocks. Last year’s violence cost the industry £21million.
The UK Government has spent £63million improving security at the Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles and Port of Calais in the past year but there are still 7,000 migrants in the notorious “Jungle” camp waiting to cross the Channel. The referendum vote and French threat to force border controls back to Dover have raised fears of migrant camps in the South-east.
The deployment of the drones follows embarrassing security breaches. A Sudanese refugee walked the 31 miles of the tunnel last year before he was given asylum.
A Daily Express investigation found there are 20,000 migrants camped between Dunkirk and Cherbourg. It also revealed 84,088 were intercepted at the UK border on the Continent last year.
James Hookham, of the Freight Transport Association, said: “Truck drivers have been subjected to violence and face huge fines if stowaways are found on board so boosting security can only be good news.”
The Home Office said yesterday: “The bilateral agreements... are not directly affected by the UK’s membership of the EU. Border Force will continue work with its French partners to secure the border at... ports.”
ROYAL finance figures are out. The amount taxpayers contribute to the monarch’s income has, it is true, gone up a bit in the past 12 months. From 59p a year to 62p a year. Still very good value.