‘Take them back’ Migration Watch chair says returning boats can help stop Calais crossings

Nigel Farage criticises Priti Patel over migrant vessels

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The chairman of Migration Watch UK claimed the UK Government needs to ensure the French take back many migrants that are illegally entering British waters. Alp Mehmet, who himself emigrated to the UK from Cyprus in 1956, said: “We’ve got to persuade the French that they’ve got to take them back.”

He added: “While we hesitate and seem incapable – reluctant if not incapable – of sending people back because the French won’t have them, then I am afraid the numbers will keep coming and keep going up.”

Instead, he suggested: “What we’ve got to show is that those coming over here seeking asylum, trying to come across illegally and doing it, will not be granted asylum and that they will be returned either to where they came or their country of origin.”

The ex-diplomat also told Express.co.uk that while the French are seemingly open to engage in juxtaposed controls they do adopt some ridiculous positions on policing the Channel.

On the fact the French do not stop dinghies until they have hit water, Mehmet said: “Frankly that is nonsense.”

The chairman of the independent and non-political think tank asserted current arrangements with the French had not been advantageous for Britain.

He even described Britain’s total payments to France, including the £55million fund for French patrols, as a “massive waste of money”.

Mehmet added: “We’re giving them money to do the job they should be doing anyway.”

Migration Watch UK’s chairman also highlighted that while it costs up to £70million per year “in isolation” to put up Calais crossers in hotels, the total cost is estimated to reach up to £1billion per year.

Mr Mehmet’s comments come after the Home Office confirmed a record-breaking 828 migrants were intercepted by the UK while crossing the Channel on Saturday.

The total number of migrants crossing the Dover Strait has already exceeded the 8,417 people who arrived aboard small boats in 2020.

The former ambassador to Iceland, who became chairman of Migration Watch UK in July 2019, warned the total number in 2021 could rise to between 25,000 and 30,000.

However, when asked if he agreed with the former Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, that the arrival of migrants on the Kent coast constitutes an “invasion”, Mr Mehmet said while “it makes a nice headline” he was not sure whether it was the right choice of words.

Instead he said: “What we are really talking about here is a lot of people coming over in dinghies to make their life in this country.”

Amongst a majority of both Conservative voters and Brexit-backers, immigration is now considered the most important issue facing the country.

While the Migration Watch UK’s chairman claimed the Government’s failure to address the Calais crossings could “disillusion” people and “destabilise our own political system”, he also believes the proposed Labour, SNP and Lib Dem policies would be “more detrimental”.

He said: “Perhaps the advantage the Government has is that if you look at what is being proposed by the Labour Party, by the SNP, by the Liberal Democrats, frankly their proposals and their policies would be even more detrimental to immigration control than the ones that the Government has introduced and what they intend to do with their Nationality and Borders Bill that is going through Parliament now.”

But the ex-diplomat claimed the Nationality and Borders Bill may not lead to the UK taking back even more control of its borders.

“It may tweak things here and there but it certainly won’t discourage illegal crossings,” he said.

Mr Mehmet added it will give the Government scope to open overseas and offshore processing centres but argued opening a centre with the Danes in Rwanda could just delay the process if those denied asylum attempt to arrive in the UK anyway.

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He said: “Even if you have them, as was suggested recently in Rwanda, working with the Danes to set up a processing centre there or anywhere else frankly that has been mooted, it’s not so much while you’re dealing with them it’s what happens at the end of the process.”

Following on from events in Afghanistan, the former ambassador to Iceland stressed the Calais-Dover migrants were usually not fleeing war torn countries.

“A majority of those coming over come from countries that may be poor and they may be jobless but these are not reasons enough for them to qualify for asylum in accordance with the convention we are a party to,” he said.

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