POLITICS ACROSS THE POND— In an exclusive column for The Pavlovic Today, a member of the British Parliament, Andrew Bridgen, writes about the best way to tackle the root cause of illegal immigration. 

The widespread media reporting of illegal migrants packed like sardines into dangerously overloaded dinghies making the dash across the English Channel from France appears to be a regular a part of our British Summer. It is almost as traditional as the local village fete and its best fruit and vegetable competition judging, perhaps even more so this year as the village fetes have mostly been canceled due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

Our island has been looked upon enviously, throughout history, by those willing to cross treacherous seas in search of easy pickings. For almost 300 years from 793AD until 1066, the Vikings steered a course to our shores. The sight of their longboats striking fear into the indigenous population and signaling the start of another Viking Summer.

In recent days, the BBC has been filming the ruthless people traffickers plying their trade from a beach near Calais. The reporter claimed he had informed the French authorities of the imminent departure of the migrants and the presence of those organizing the trafficking, but no police or enforcement officers appeared.

It is reported that the illegal migrants pay a reported £5000 each, for potentially life-threatening travel arrangements, provided by professional criminals, risking their lives for a chance to reach our sceptered isle.

Having in my early adulthood sailed on a reasonably sized yacht across the channel, which is the busiest sea lane in the world, I am well aware that the bow-waves from the large vessels which ply their legitimate trade through our waters are quite capable of overturning this barely floating death-traps. It is very telling that those who organize and profit from this misery don’t travel in them.

I did have to laugh at the comments of Labour peer Admiral Lord West who as a former defense minister was gently stroked in a TV interview for his views on the use of our Navy to deter these little boats. The Europhile Lord claimed with a straight face that “people will always want to get into the EU” and wasn’t picked up by the slow-witted interviewer on three obvious points:

  1. The UK is no longer in the EU
  2. The migrants are already in the EU as they are in France
  3. The migrants appear to want to leave the EU

It is hard to believe that the desperate people in the boats arriving on our South coast are all paying up-front for their passage, I suspect many, if not a majority are in debt and will remain obligated to the people traffickers. This will inevitably result in them having to sell themselves into a life of servitude and enslavement to pay off the cost of their passage to “a better life”.

Commentators remark that the record numbers of unconventional arrivals may be because of the fear of future changes to the UK’s asylum laws. The fact is that when we are out of the current transition period of being under EU law on the 31st December 2020, we will be able to amend our legislation as we see fit to address this problem. However, the abandoned boats on our shores are just the visible tip of the iceberg concerning illegal migration. Most illegal migrants arrive in our country legally and are people who have arrived on an education or tourist visa and simply overstay. Those who travel to the UK illegally do so by many routes often hidden in vehicles with or without the drivers’ knowledge.

The fact is that traveling from France to the UK illegally to claim asylum should not be grounds to remain in the UK, as asylum seekers are obligated to make their claim to asylum in the first safe country and it would be difficult for even the most ardent Francophobe to claim that France, by world standards, is not a safe country for asylum seekers.

It is illegal for anyone in the UK to employ or rent property to an illegal immigrant and fines on conviction for doing so are substantial. Why then, when their grounds for claiming asylum in the UK are so dubious, are they coming here?

They come because we have a huge sub-culture of illegal workers and modern slavery in our country, a thriving sub-culture that I have recently been able to expose. Until recently the modern slavery unit at the Home Office maintained that there were about 8500 modern slaves in the UK, I can assure you that there are more than that number in the City of Leicester alone.

I estimate that there are at least 150 000 modern slaves in our country and possibly many more, We are victims of our success, free healthcare at the point of need, free education, a comprehensive benefits system and a high, by world standards minimum wage per hour. This offers huge opportunities to the unscrupulous employers and landlords and all they need is a constant flow of illegal migrants to exploit.

We will never stop illegal migration into the UK while we have the pull-factor of a thriving modern slavery market.

By the time those enticed to enter the UK illegally with the prospect of the land of Milk and Honey realize that the grass is not always greener, it is too late and they are in the system, or more accurately most of them are outside our system and its protections. They can try to get asylum, fail, and disappear into the UK’s ugly exploitative sub-culture. It will take a long time to repay the traffickers working and existing, not living, in the UK on £3.50 per hour cash in hand.

Before you buy that £10 dress made in Leicester or have your car washed by hand cheaper than it can be done by the automated systems, that now appear redundant and unused, please remember as the Anglo-Saxons came to know in dealing with the Vikings, while ever you are willing to pay the Danegeld you will always have the Dane.

Andrew Bridgen

Andrew Bridgen is a Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire.