Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

Diane Abbott claims migrant crisis was ‘bound to get difficult’ as UK prepared for Brexit

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Labour’s Diane Abbott has accused the Government of failing to get a grip of the migrant crisis after more than 500 people were intercepted as they crossed the English Channel over the last three days. Home Secretary Priti Patel has pledged to make the crossing unviable and has urged the French Government to implement a tougher crackdown on the Calais side. Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott pointed to Brexit for the rising tensions between the UK and France in handling the migrant crisis.

She told BBC Breakfast: “This is not a war between the UK and France.

“These things were bound to get more difficult as we prepared to leave the EU.

“What I’m saying is in the medium term and the long term, there has to be better cooperation across the EU.

“That is the only solution, otherwise whenever the weather is better and the seas are calmer, you’re going to have these desperate people trying to cross the Channel.”

Talks to tackle the issue are set to take place in Paris next week, although concerns have been raised about whether the two parties can find a workable solution.

Ms Abbott said: “I think you’ll find that France is cooperating.

“But once we decided to leave the EU, cooperation around the security matters was inevitably going to become more difficult.

“I said this as shadow home secretary and that’s what we’re seeing.”

Labour’s current shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, said the crisis was “deeply concerning”.

The Opposition party said ministers were “failing to get to grips with the crisis”.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee has now launched an inquiry into the rising number of people crossing the Channel and the actions of the UK and French governments.

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Royal Navy chiefs are now considering a formal request for support to help deal with the crisis.

This comes after the Home Secretary suggested that the military branch could be drafted to help push back boats towards France.

However the suggestion has been deemed “very dangerous” and potentially illegal under international law.

Ms Abbott told the BBC that it made “no sense” to spend millions for the military to deal with “a few desperate people”.

She also expressed concern that the big Navy boats could tip the migrant dinghies into the Channel and lead to people dying.

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