France accused over Calais migrants
France needs to "get its act together" and deal with growing numbers of asylum seekers in Calais rather than blaming Britain, a former home secretary has insisted.
Lord Howard of Lympne said he had "some sympathy" with the mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, amid increasingly desperate efforts by migrants to get into the UK.
But he said she was "directing her frustration and her anger at the wrong target" by demanding that London "take responsibility" and threatening to blockade the port.
"The general principle which every member state of the European Union has subscribed to is that refugees, people fleeing persecution, should apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach," Lord Howard told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"France used to take this very seriously. When I was home secretary, which was quite a long time ago now, we had an agreement with France under which if people came to the UK from France and claimed asylum we returned them to France and France dealt with their claim.
"That is what really ought to happen."
The Tory peer said the root issue was that France had "lost control of its borders" after signing up to the Schengen agreement that "dismantled" restrictions between countries.
He added that the previous French administration under president Nicolas Sarkozy had recognised that and threatened to withdraw from Schengen - which the UK never signed up to.
"The mayor of Calais ought to be directing her frustration at president (Francois) Hollande and getting him to take the kind of action that president Sarkozy was talking about," Lord Howard said.
"We have control of our borders. But it is the countries of the Schengen agreement that ought to get their act together and deal with this problem. We have retained control of our borders, and it is about time members of the Schengen agreement did the same."