Migrant crisis: Channel chaos is down to 'broken relations' in Europe since BREXIT, Labour claims

Brexit news: Labour's Steve Reed said a breakdown in Britain's relations with Europe was to blame for the migrant crisis
Brexit news: Labour's Steve Reed said a breakdown in Britain's relations with Europe was to blame for the migrant crisis

Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed says Brexit has soured British relations with EU nations

THE Channel migrants crisis has escalated because the Government has not worked with European governments in the wake of Brexit to solve the issue, according to Shadow Justice Secretary Steve Reed.

Mr Reed told GB News: “Three years ago in the House of Commons Priti Patel who was then the Home Secretary stood up and said she would halve the number of small boats coming across the channel since then, it's gone up by 20 fold. It hasn't halved.

“It's gone up massively because they didn't work with our European partners in the way that they said that they would.

“Instead of working with them, we had Boris Johnson, who was then the Prime Minister, astonishingly comparing the Europeans to Nazis.

"And then we had Liz Truss unable to say, when asked, if the French president was a friend or a foe to this country

“Now, if you break our relationships, our partners that we need to work with in that way, then of course, you're not going to get the co-operation that we need and a reset can only come with a new government.”

Bodies are brought ashore in Kent yesterday after a migrant dinghy sank in the English Channel
Bodies are brought ashore in Kent yesterday after a migrant dinghy sank in the English Channel

Speaking to Isabel Webster and Andrew Pierce, the arch-Remainer added: “There's a pull factor going on here, which is the fact the Government is currently only processing 4% of all applications for asylum within a 12 month period.

“So 96% don't get processed. When that many people are coming in, and feel that they can just stay because the government isn't going to do anything, that gives the people smugglers a reason to say, ‘we'll just get you there and the British government won't do anything.

“Hotels in my constituency, and I know in many other areas as well, are full of refugees at huge cost to the public sector.

"The Government needs to get a grip of this crisis in a way that so far they haven't. The first thing that we should be doing is what we've been calling for, a specialist unit to be set up within the National Crime Agency to work much more closely with our partners in France and Belgium across the channel but also Europol right across the continent.

“We need to tackle, at source, these evil people smugglers who profiteer from human misery, who are bringing these people to Calais and putting them on the boats.

“There's a number of people, trafficking gangs, smuggling gangs that are orchestrating all of this to make money for themselves regardless of the cost or consequences in human life.”

His comments come as the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) carries out a “preliminary assessment” of the eight suspected deaths in the Channel yesterday and will decide whether an investigation will be launched once evidence has been reviewed.

A MAIB spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a tragic incident involving a small boat in the English channel in the early hours of yesterday morning.

"We are in the process of gathering information about the incident as part of the process of conducting a preliminary assessment.

"A decision on whether an investigation will be launched will be made once the evidence has been reviewed.” Drones were used to search the Channel overnight after four people died - with a further four missing presumed dead - when a migrant boat capsized.

A record number of immigrants have arrived in the UK this year
A record number of immigrants have arrived in the UK this year

Ships were also asked to post lookouts as the search continued on Thursday after 39 people were rescued in the early hours of Wednesday, with most of them understood to have been pulled from the cold water.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said: “The search has continued overnight utilising a combination of aerial search assets and broadcast action requesting shipping in the area to post lookouts and report any sightings to Dover Coastguard.

“Our thoughts are with those affected by this tragic incident and with the families of those who have lost their lives.”