Calais: a sharp contrast in approach

Philip Hammond, the British Foreign Secretary, has made some comments about the Calais situation, reported in the Telegraph:

Millions of African migrants pose a threat to the standard of living and social structure of the UK and the rest of Europe, the Foreign Secretary has warned.

Philip Hammond said under EU laws migrants can be “pretty confident” that they will never be returned to their home countries, adding that it will not be “sustainable” if Europe has to “absorb” millions of African migrants.

He also said that there will always be a threat to the security of the Channel Tunnel as long as there are still large numbers of “pretty deperate” migrants who are “maurauding” in the Calais area.

Speaking during a visit to Singapore, Mr Hammond said the gap in living standards between Europe and Africa meant there would always be an “economic motivation” for Africans to try to make it to the EU.

He told BBC News: “We have got to be able to resolve this problem ultimately by being able to return those who are not entitled to claim asylum back to their countries of origin. That’s our number one priority.

“As long as the Europe Union’s laws are the way they are, many of them will only have to set foot in Europe to be pretty confident that they will never be returned to their country of origin.

“Now, that is not a sustainable situation because Europe can’t protect itself and preserve its standard of living and social structure, if it has to absorb millions of migrants from Africa.”

Reading those remarks, it was difficult not to note the sharp contrast with the words of Tim Farron after his recent visit to meet some of the Calais refugees:

The significant majority in the camp are, according to the French authorities and doctors, absolutely what any reasonable person would consider a refugee fleeing from war or persecution.

So this idea they are all money-grabbing people is just rubbish. I got talking to a bunch of guys from Eritrea, from Sudan, from Libya, and these are guys who wanted to come to England. Not one of them had a clue about benefits. They wanted to come to the UK because the UK represents the good life. Not that it’s a bed of roses or it’s cushy; I mean a life where people aren’t shooting at you, where you can be free to worship where you want to worship.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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20 Comments

  • O.K.,..So now we’ve noted the sharp contrast between Philip Hammond and Tim Farron, can someone tell us, what exactly is the Lib Dem approach to the specific migrant problem in Calais, given that Tim was a bit ‘thin’ on precise policy detail, when he was interviewed in Calais? Is Tim suggesting that we pull down the fence and let them all into the UK?

  • David Evershed 9th Aug '15 - 3:30pm

    Tim Farron says “what any reasonable person would consider a refugee fleeing from war or persecution”.

    They are “fleeing” from France to England. Does Tim really think France is in a state of war and persecution?

    If Lib Dems are going to be so naive and innocent we can not expect the electorate to vote for us.

  • Mr Hammond,speaking during a visit to Singapore.
    Singapore is a place full of immigrants and since the British left enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. Many African countries are starting to enjoy economic growth with increasing links with China.

  • David
    How do the French treat them?

  • John Tilley 9th Aug '15 - 4:44pm

    David Evershed 9th Aug ’15 – 3:30pm

    Have you ever considered that it might possible to be “well-informed and wise” rather than “naive and innocent”?

    “Ill-iinformed, stupid and prejudiced” is another approach which some voters might find attractive. They were not going to vote Liberal Democrat anyway — the clue is in the party name.

    Some of us reject the idea that all voters are too stupid to be able to distinguish between a compassionate and intelligent approach and thinly disguised prejudice. Watching the TV programme ‘The Last Leg’ on Friday evening it was clear from the reaction of the studio audience that the line taken by Tim Farron certainly appeals to some voters.

  • Litttle Jackie Paper 9th Aug '15 - 6:23pm

    From that Farron quote – ‘They wanted to come to the UK because the UK represents the good life. ‘

    Isn’t that pretty much the critics’ point?

    ‘I got talking to a bunch of guys from Eritrea, from Sudan, from Libya, and these are guys who wanted to come to England. Not one of them had a clue about benefits.’

    I do rather wonder what he was expecting them to say.

  • Mr Farron wants to save as many as possible from these nasty French people, the Nasty Dutch, the Nasty Belgians, Nasty Italians, etc.

  • David Evershed 9th Aug '15 - 7:38pm

    The population of Africa is about a billion. Virtually all of them would have a better life if, individually, they lived in Europe. However, that will not work since if they all came Europe would then be turned into Africa.

    Instead the answer to the poor life of the population in Aftrica is for the more enterprising Africans to improve the situation by organisating better governance and cutting out corruption. Letting some of the more enterprising Africans come to Europe does not help improve Africa.

    Much the same applies to the Middle East.

    Asia is showing what is possible and the Tiger economies like Singapore already have a better standard of life than much of Europe.

  • Richard Underhill 9th Aug '15 - 8:25pm

    Every time they open a new thread my comments about what is in the refugee convention get sidetracked.
    Neverthe less the bit about “reasonable people” is not in the 1951 United Nations Convention.

  • Alfred Motspur 9th Aug '15 - 11:19pm

    John, Tim called on letting in 60,000 migrants (reported on the Guardian, July 4, 2015) during the leadership election as part of an EU quota system. However, Tim also acknowledged the difference between “genuine people who need our help” and those “exploiting a desperate situation”, calling for a “a firm but fair approach at our borders.” (Lib Dem Voice, July 29, 2015).

    And David, whilst you’re right to point out that the refugees didn’t necessarily need to come all the way to Calais, we can’t dismiss the possibility that some of them may be trying to gain access specifically to the UK because they have family, friends or support networks that they know which are already situated in the UK: it must be a terrifying thought to be isolated in a country where you don’t know anybody. Some of them may also not speak any other EU languages asides English.

    In addition, there has already been considerable violence against refugees in Italy; 8 apartments for 78 migrants in a small town on the outskirts of Rome were sacked two Mays ago by unhappy local inhabitants, to name just one example, alongside public protests on the streets against housing more refugees. It’s not always guaranteed that the refugees are safe as soon as they land on EU shores.

  • Richard Stallard 10th Aug '15 - 1:55am

    “In addition, there has already been considerable violence against refugees in Italy…”
    As will be seen here unless numbers are strictly controlled. There is a tipping point which, from the evidence in the last paragraph of Alfred’s post, has already been reached in some places. Too many, too fast and protest and violence are the inevitable result – even for the normally very patient and tolerant indigenous British.

  • It’s a pity Hammond has taken this line without, apparently, balancing it. He’s always struck me as rather decent and fair-minded for a Tory.

    The point in this discussion about moving from France to the UK – or from Italy to Germany – is legitimate. More European co-operation is needed, but of course that would not only mean more action by French police but also the UK taking its share and not relying on historical German guilt or present German compassion to let us off the hook.

    But we’re fooling ourselves if we imagine this crisis will be manageable by strengthening the walls and keeping death and chaos in other continents. The only sustainable solutions involve improving life in Africa and the Middle East. That’s not just a matter of social justice, of security and of preventing failed states, but of action on climate change and particularly desertification.

  • Hammond is way too inflexible, Farron is way too flexible. Sadly most of the public edge towards the former rather than latter. Someone needs to find a middle way. Sadly that won’t be us I fear.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Aug '15 - 12:05pm

    Please also see today’s announcement from Tory minister/s about raids, looking for illegal entrants.
    Employers are warned.
    They are trying to reduce the “pull factor” and intending to get coverage in international media.

  • @ Alfred Motspur
    “Tim called on letting in 60,000 migrants (reported on the Guardian, July 4, 2015) during the leadership election as part of an EU quota system.”
    What you failed to mention Alfred, is that Tim is simply echoing the request of unelected Jean-Claude Juncker. And more importantly Juncker said the UK should take in 60,000 *This Year*! What about next year and the year after that? How many more will this unelected EU bureaucrat demand the UK to take? And is Tim going to prove to be a leader in his own right or merely a sock puppet of the dictatorial EU?
    Always check the small print, before taking what a politician says at face value.

  • I seem to recall both a Labour and a Tory politician getting caught employing someone not entitled to work here.

  • Richard Underhill 10th Aug '15 - 10:54pm

    The detail on what “reasonable” means comes from a town called Wednesbury in the Midlands.
    A precedent defined “Wednesbury unreasonable” which is often considered to be extremely unreasonable, but it is not.
    If a judge falls asleep while hearing a case he/she is not doing his/her job.
    The idea of proportionality from the Human Rights Act is more recent and more useful.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associated_Provincial_Picture_Houses_Ltd_v_Wednesbury_Corp

  • Alfred Motspur 11th Aug '15 - 9:39am

    Sure, John, and I’m all for more direct democratic reform of the EU: more power should be put into the hands of the European Parliament (especially the right to initiate legislation) so that the EU is more accountable to the public rather than the national governments and the officials that they elect (it looks like Cameron’s reforms will be doing the opposite of this, though) 🙂

    Anyway, it looks like the Lib Dems will be campaigning for a radical reform of it during the referendum, looking at what’s been said on the subject here at LDV, so I guess that that’ll (hopefully!) be how Tim proves that he’s not “a sock puppet of the dictatorial EU” 🙂

    But simply because Juncker suggested the EU quota policy, it doesn’t mean that it’s not the right way forward. In my view, Farron’s very much right, but like Simon said, we need to be improving life in Africa and the Middle East too – which we can do probably do much better through working with our European neighbours – as a long-term solution.

  • Alfred suggests :
    “..we need to be improving life in Africa and the Middle East too – which we can do probably do much better through working with our European neighbours – as a long-term solution.”
    When I read stuff like that, I do a double take to see if I’m reading something being said ‘tongue in cheek’,.. but I’ve concluded you’re deadly serious, and I’m in awe of your ambition.

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