Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Home News UK

Brick up the Channel Tunnel to stop 'swarms' of migrants? Nigel Farage suggests it's no joke

Published 30/07/2015

Migrants who managed to pass the police block on the Eurotunnel site run towards the boarding docks in Coquelles near Calais, northern France, on late July 29, 2015. One man died Wednesday in a desperate attempt to reach England via the Channel Tunnel as overwhelmed authorities fought off hundreds of migrants, prompting France to beef up its police presence. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants who managed to pass the police block on the Eurotunnel site run towards the boarding docks in Coquelles near Calais, northern France, on late July 29, 2015. One man died Wednesday in a desperate attempt to reach England via the Channel Tunnel as overwhelmed authorities fought off hundreds of migrants, prompting France to beef up its police presence. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Lorries queued as part of Operation Stack along the north and southbound carriageways of the M20 in Ashford, Kent, following a migrant death in the latest incursion on the Channel Tunnel in Calais. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday July 29, 2015. The death comes as some 1,500 people were successful in breaching the fences at Calais last night, and 2,000 stormed the French terminal the night before. See PA story POLITICS Calais. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
French gendarmes try to stop migrants on the Eurotunnel site in Coquelles near Calais, northern France, on late July 29, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants wait near a Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles near Calais, northern France, on July 29, 2015. One man died on July 29 in a desperate attempt to reach England via the Channel Tunnel as overwhelmed authorities fought off hundreds of migrants, prompting France to beef up its police presence. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
A migrant climbs a security fence of a Eurotunnel terminal in Coquelles near Calais, northern France, on July 30, 2015. One man died on July 29 in a desperate attempt to reach England via the Channel Tunnel as overwhelmed authorities fought off hundreds of migrants, prompting France to beef up its police presence. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants walk in a makeshift camp known as the "Jungle", in Calais, northern France, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Migrants rushed the tunnel linking France and England repeatedly for a second night on Wednesday and one man was crushed by a truck and died in the chaos, deepening tensions surrounding the thousands of people camped in this northern French port city. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Migrants from Sudan build a hut at a site dubbed "new jungle", where migrants trying to cross the Channel to reach Britain have camped out around the northern French port of Calais, on July 29, 2015. One man died today as migrants made some 1,500 attempts to enter the Eurotunnel terminal in a desperate bid to get to England, a situation the British prime minister warned was "very concerning." AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Video grab taken from BBC News of migrants by the side of a road in Calais as French ferry workers strike.
Migrants queue for food handouts at the Jungle 2 migrant camp in Calais, France, as the migrant crisis across Europe continues to escalate.
Video grab taken from BBC News of migrants by the side of a road in Calais attempting to board a lorry as French ferry workers strike.
Striking employees of the French company My Ferry Link, a cross-channel ferry service, stand in front of tyres set on fire as they block the access to the Channel Tunnel on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Trucks queue up as part of Operation Stack on June 23, 2015 in Dover, England. Ferry workers blockaded the port of Calais in a protest over job cuts earlier on Tuesday. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
French riot police officers take position to drive out protesting French employees (unseen) of the company English Channel passenger and freight ferry company "MyFerryLink", who block the railway tracks of the Eurostar Channel tunnel line, on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
People at St Pancras International train station in London, as Eurostar suspended all services due to migrant unrest in Calais.
People hold banners during a demonstration of migrants in Calais, northern France, on World Refugee Day on June 20, 2015. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants camp in squalid conditions on a dusty site dubbed "The Jungle II" in Calais, France, as the migrant crisis across Europe continues to escalate.
Train boards at St Pancras International train station in London, as Eurostar suspended all services due to migrant unrest in Calais.
A group of migrants collect donated food in a squalid camp dubbed "The Jungle II" in Calais, France, as the migrant crisis across Europe continues to escalate.
A striking employee of the French company My Ferry Link, a cross-channel ferry service, sits on a tyre in front of tyres set on fire as he takes part in a blockade of the access to the Channel Tunnel on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants sit near the A16 highway as they try to access the Channel Tunnel on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
A police officer sprays tear gas to migrants trying to access the Channel Tunnel on the A16 highway on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Protesting French employees of the company English Channel passenger and freight ferry company "MyFerryLink" block the railway tracks of the Eurostar Channel tunnel line with a blockade of burning tyres and plastic barriers, on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Protesting French employees of the company English Channel passenger and freight ferry company "MyFerryLink" block the railway tracks of the Eurostar Channel tunnel line with a burning plastic barrier, on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Protesting French employees of the company English Channel passenger and freight ferry company "MyFerryLink" block the railway tracks of the Eurostar Channel tunnel line on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
French riot police officers take position to drive out protesting French employees (unseen) of the company English Channel passenger and freight ferry company "MyFerryLink", who block the railway tracks of the Eurostar Channel tunnel line, on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
French riot police officers (Front) drive out protesting French employees (Rear) of the company English Channel passenger and freight ferry company "MyFerryLink", from the railway tracks of the Eurostar Channel tunnel line, on June 23, 2015 in Calais, northern France. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUENPHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Migrants open a lorry in a failed attempt to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Migrants open a lorry in a failed attempt to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Migrants wait along a motorway leading to a ferry port to cross the English Channel, in Calais, northern France, Wednesday, June 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Passengers wait to board Eurostar trains at a busy St Pancras International, London, as hundreds of passengers were left stranded on both the English and French sides of the tunnel yesterday as a result of disruption at Calais.

Nigel Farage has suggested the Channel Tunnel might need to be closed permanently to stop migrants reaching Britain from Calais.

The Ukip leader said "it is always possible isn't it" when asked if closing the link between Britain and France, either temporarily or permanently, was a possible solution to the crisis.

Politicians are discussing measures being taken to deal with chaotic scenes at Calais, where large numbers of migrants living in a tent city have attempted to enter the Channel Tunnel.

Mr Farage made the remark during a question and answer session following a speech on the European Union referendum and repeated the suggestion later with reporters.

He said: "It's always possible, isn't it. Let's say I hope it doesn't happen.

"It's important, the Channel Tunnel is important. It's important for trade, it's important for leisure.

"Let us hope those circumstances don't occur - but if the French authorities don't start to take a much stronger and tougher line it is a very real possibility.

"What's happened is all of the emphasis was on the ferry port. If you go back six months, it was the ferry port where the migrants were camped, it was the ferry port where people were attempting to get into lorries and cars.

"Since the massive fencing was put up around the ferry port, it's all moved to Eurotunnel. The weakness of Eurotunnel is however much you build up the security or the fences at the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles itself... you go a couple of kilometres down the line and find fencing that is frankly pretty easy to clamber under."

He added: "The risk of the Channel Tunnel being closed doesn't come from here, it doesn't come from Dover, but it does come from France and the French authorities. I very much hope it does not happen."

Speaking later to reporters, Mr Farage was told Al Murray, who ran against him in South Thanet at May's election, had promised voters he would brick up the Channel Tunnel as part of his joke manifesto.

The Ukip leader said: "If the French don't get a grip, it may happen anyway - that's the point. The problem isn't in Dover, the problem is in Calais and it's virtually lawless over there. It's frightening.

"When I drive through there, I feel I'm big enough and ugly enough to look after myself but it's pretty intimidating.

"Who knows, Al Murray may have a future."

Meanwhile, Mr Farage - and David Cameron - have both used the word "swarms" to refer to migrants at Calais.

"A couple of times I've been stuck on the motorway surrounded by swarms of potential migrants to Britain and once they tried the back door of the car to see whether they could get in," the Ukip leader said on ITV1's Good Morning Britain today.

"I kept the door locked. I wasn't getting out. It is really, at times, quite frightening and certainly at night you get the feeling, 'I just want to leave this place as quickly as possible'."

David Cameron's description of migrants has been condemned as "disgraceful" by one of the front-runners for the Labour leadership.

Speaking during a visit to Vietnam, Mr Cameron told ITV News that the problem had become worse in recent months because "you have got a swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life, wanting to come to Britain".

Labour leadership candidate Andy Burnham was swift to condemn the remark with a statement on Twitter: "Cameron calling Calais migrants a 'swarm' is nothing short of disgraceful. Confirms there's no dog-whistle these Bullingdon Boys won't blow."

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman said the Prime Minister appeared to want to whip people up against the migrants.

She told BBC News: "He should remember he is talking about people, not insects.

"I think it's a very worrying turn that he appears to be wanting to be divisive and set people against, whip people up, against the migrants in Calais when what he should have been doing, and should have been doing months ago and was warned to be doing, is to get the situation sorted out with the French."

Ms Harman dismissed calls for the British Army to be sent in to sort out the problem.

"I don't think there should be any question of us sending in our army. The French themselves have got troops as well as a large police force."

Press Association

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph