The Daily Telegraph
Hold migrants on cruise ships to enforce quarantine, MP urges
Home Secretary’s explanation for increase in migrants crossing Channel inflames already tense relations between Paris and London
MIGRANTS should be held in quarantine on Army bases or cruise ships to ensure that they are subject to the same strict rules faced by tourists, politicians said last night.
Tim Loughton, who sits on the home affairs select committee, said it “makes nonsense of the system” if people who enter the country illegally are treated leniently, amid claims that checks are not being made after arrival.
British tourists returning from France have to self-isolate for 14 days.
All migrants arriving in the UK since June have been ordered to quarantine, but a Border Force source said that little was being done to ensure the rules were followed and some in emergency accommodation were being given vouchers to go to the shops.
Due to the pandemic, detention centres are able to hold fewer migrants at a time when increasing numbers are arriving, with more than 4,500 attempting to cross the Channel this year.
A Home Office source insisted that every migrant is being housed in their own room and brought food.
However, the claims were contradicted by MPS and campaigners. Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit Party, filmed migrants congregating outside a three-star hotel in Priti Patel’s Essex constituency on Friday.
Mr Loughton, the Tory MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said the only way to stop people crossing was to take them back to France. “People would soon start to realise that they had paid people smugglers £4,000 only to end up where they started,” he added.
Until a deal was reached with France, holding migrants on cruise ships could negate the quarantine issue, he added.
A Home Office spokesman said that since June “those who have come … in illegally facilitated crossings have been placed in accommodation which allows them to self-isolate for 14 days.
“Food, toiletries and essential items are provided so that people do not need to leave … they are not issued with food vouchers and do not have to shop.”
THE Government has created a diplomatic storm of its own making, MPS have warned, after the Home Secretary suggested migrants were attempting Channel crossings to escape France because they saw it as a “racist country”.
A “war of words” between the two nations broke out yesterday, as Paris geared up to impose reciprocal quarantine measures on British travellers.
French politicians accused Priti Patel of spreading “hateful claims” in a “callous manner”, after her comments emerged yesterday.
The accusations were levied after details surfaced of a conference call between Ms Patel and Conservative MPS.
In the frank discussions, the Home Secretary reportedly said migrants were crossing the Channel because they believe France is a “racist country” where they may be “tortured”.
One MP, who was on the call last week, said: “Priti was asked why the migrants are so desperate to leave France and come here. She told us some believe racism to be an issue.
“They claim they feel discriminated against when, for example, looking for work in France. Others claimed they feared being tortured if they stayed in France or Germany.”
Ms Patel’s comments stoked anger in Paris, with one politician from Emmanuel Macron’s ruling LREM party saying: “Hateful claims are not a healthy part of politics, but this woman seems to spread them all the time.”
An MP from the opposition Republicans party told The Mail on Sunday:
“Madame Patel has caused a lot of upset already with absurd and untrue claims about our forces not stopping immigrant boats. Wherever these latest claims about racism came from, Madame Patel should not be spreading them in such a callous manner.”
Tory backbenchers last night suggested that Ms Patel’s comments were “at best unhelpful as we try to come to a consensus” on migrant crossings.
More than 4,500 have made the dangerous crossing this year, more than double the amount thought to have done so during the whole of 2019.
Last week, Chris Philp, the immigration minister, said French officials had agreed to work on a “joint operational plan” to make the English Channel “unviable” to migrants. However, few details have been released and it was reported last week that little of substance was ultimately decided upon.
Some Tory MPS fear Ms Patel’s comments could “set us back further” in discussions with France.
A senior backbencher said: “The current administration doesn’t seem to give much thought to diplomacy in these matters. Surely the migrant crossing issue can only be solved by mutual agreement? We need action not a war of words.”
However, a separate MP told The Daily Telegraph that Ms Patel was “on the money”.
“In my view you get a much easier life here than you do in France and I applaud Priti for saying it publicly,” the ally said. “I think people are fed up of politicians who don’t say as they feel.”
On Saturday night, the Royal Navy was called in for the first time this summer to help tackle the crisis after more than 1,000 people reached the UK in 10 days earlier this month.
The Ministry of Defence said it would send in a specialist team to “support the daily running of Border Force operations”, after another boat with at least one child on board successfully made the crossing yesterday.
It is the first time since Jan 2019 that the Royal Navy has been employed in the effort to stop the clandestine crossings, and the task force of around a dozen officers will help to plan and organise operations, working alongside Border Force officials. So far, no Navy ships have been requested, but the MOD said nothing was “off the table” if the flow of small boats could not be stemmed.
In a thinly veiled attack on the Home Office, an MOD source said “civilian authorities are not used to fast paced, large scale and constantly changing situations in the same way as the military. That’s what we do.”
Shadow R1 aircraft – intelligencegathering planes – will also be employed to conduct surveillance and will operate over the coming weeks.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said: “The UK Armed Forces have once again proved, through both this and their incredible support during coronavirus, that they are always present and ready when we need them most.”
“Dangerous crossings ultimately put people’s lives in danger and it is right that we support the Border Force.”
‘Quarantine appears to be motivated more by domestic British political concerns than halting the spread of the virus’