Chloe Smith
MP for Norwich North

Channel Crossings

Author: Chloe Smith, Updated: 06 October 2021 15:12

A number of constituents have contacted me about channel crossing, and so I wanted to post some information about it here.

This is an extremely emotive and complex issue and one the Government has given a lot of thought to. The Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and it is not suitable for small boats to cross. We have all seen the stories involving tragic loss of life in the Channel. The Government is unapologetic about the fact it will do what it can to deter people from making such perilous crossings.

During these crossings people put their lives, and sometimes the lives of their children and families, in danger. We have seen evidence that people smugglers threaten violence and exploit vulnerable people in order to make them cross the Channel. Some people in small boats are deliberately trafficked here, in circumstances that amount to modern slavery.

While I understand other points of view, the Government has set out clearly the reasons why it will continue to try to deter migrant channel crossings. It is the view of the Home Secretary, and the Government, that for too long, our asylum system has lined the pockets of criminal gangs and people smugglers. This is not fair to the vulnerable people who need protection or the British public who pay for it

The Nationality and Borders Bill will aim to create a fair but firm system that prevents dangerous channel crossings and cracks down on the criminal gangs that exploit vulnerable migrants, whilst supporting those in genuine need. The focus of Government policy is on targeting criminal gangs.

On the specific policy of pushing boats back, my understanding is that this tactic has not yet been used.  It is the case that the Home Office always continues to evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options to stop people making these dangerous crossings. I believe the surest way of saving lives at sea is to stop these crossings and I welcome any safe and legal effort by Border Force to achieve this.

Crossing the Channel is extremely dangerous, and no one wants to see loss of life or a tragedy occur, particularly when there are children on the boats. The key to addressing the issue lies in close cooperation with the French, working to discourage migrants from travelling in the first place, and disrupting organised criminals.