The refugee crisis is the principal concern in my emails. Naturally their focus has been Calais: Constituents have demanded that we send in the Army – oblivious to the fact that we ceased to rule Calais on 7th January 1558, when it fell to the French.
Some estimates suggest that as many as 1% of the refugees who have entered Europe this year, have now reached Calais. I think we are right to demand tighter security and to protect our border. We do however, need to maintain a sense of proportion. Consider that this year Germany will have to accommodate as many as half a million refugees. The problem for Germany, and much of continental Europe is the Schengen Agreement to which most EU countries are signatories (but very wisely we didn’t sign-up to). The agreement removes internal borders between the signatories. This is convenient for travellers who need not be delayed by passport controls within the Schengen area. It does however, mean that once a migrant has secured entry to a Schengen state, they can then travel unchecked to any other. The very large numbers now arriving in Italy and Greece will make their way to Calais, where at least we have a chance of halting their onward progress, and to Germany where there is no such chance.
Shouldn’t we take our fair share?
Isn’t there a case for all European nations dividing up the burden?
I have every sympathy for desperate plight that has driven so many people to such dangerous measures in their flight to Europe. To accommodate them however, will encourage potentially millions more to follow in their footsteps.
We have put our money where our Mouth is: we have committed £900 million in relief for those affected by war in Syria. Our money goes much further in providing shelter and assistance in the region than it possibly could in Europe. Our contribution is addressing the problem at its source.
If other wealthy nations followed our lead the flow of refugees would be reduced accordingly.
It is both fair and essential that we hold the line at Calais.