Brexit leader Nigel Farage has called on the government to act after he filmed what appeared to be the French Navy escorting an “absolutely packed” rubber dinghy of illegal migrants into British waters.
Mr Farage said that he sailed right to “the edge of British and French territorial waters” in order to document the growing scandal of illegal migrants sailing across the English Channel from France.
The veteran Brexiteer reported that he and his crew had already spotted “three migrant boats”, saying that: “What we know is that a French naval vessel has been seen escorting boats out of French waters to get them into British waters… then they are off their hands.”
Showing footage of a small vessel with approximately 20 migrants on their way to Britain, Mr Farage described the vessel as “absolutely packed” and “massively overcrowded”, noting “how close the water” was to the edge of the boat due to the weight of the migrants.
In perhaps the most remarkable accusations of the to-camera piece, Mr Farage accused the French navy of escorting migrants to British waters where they could be safely handed over to UK authorities, and that the captain of his own vessel had been threatened with having his ship impounded by the British if they persisted with filming the operation.
Mr Farage said UK coast guard threatened to “commandeer” the boat if they refused to stop.
“So it’s not just the French threatening us, it’s, you know, someone I’m out here with (the boat captain), they’re threatening him with his living, if we tell the truth about this story,” Farage said.
“This has got to be out there. Home Secretary, you’ve got to act!” Farage proclaimed.
His film at Dover resulted in the police making a late-night visit to the politician at home, to give him a warning for supposedly breaking the national lockdown. However, journalists are considered to have ‘key worker’ status in order to report on stories of national interest, according to government documents. Besides being a political figure, Mr Farage hosts a weekly radio show and is a frequent newspaper columnist.
Mr Farage said that the warnings from the police would not stop him from reporting on the issue, saying: “I don’t know if I will be stopped and fined if I attempt to do my job again. However, I will look at the shipping forecast. Without question, on the next calm day, they will come again, and I will be there to cover this scandal.”
Since the United Kingdom introduced the coronavirus national lockdown in March, over 1,000 migrants have successfully reached British shores. Reports have suggested that people smugglers are taking advantage of the recent warm weather and decreased numbers of shipping vessels in the Channel to send increased waves of migrants from France.
Although there has been a spike in the numbers of migrants attempting the perilous journey to reach the UK, the phenomenon is nothing new. As Breitbart London reported in 2016, migrants have been trying to take advantage of the country’s lax asylum laws for years.
Since the start of 2018, over 3,200 illegal boat migrants are known to have reached the UK. In that same time period, the British government has only deported 155 people, despite promises from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that illegal migrants would be sent back to France.
Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly reached a deal with her counterpart in France that would allow British ships to patrol French waters for the purpose of deterring boat crossings, yet this was apparently not the case for the boats that Mr Farage witnessed on Wednesday.
A leading London-based pressure group, Migration Watch UK, said that the biggest driver of boat crossings is the knowledge that they will be ferried ashore rather than being deported.
“One way to neutralise this would be UK and French government agreement that anyone intercepted, whether in the Channel or on reaching UK shores, will be returned immediately to France where any application for asylum could be made. Ultimately, it would be in French interests to prevent such departures,” the mass migration sceptic group suggested.
Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka