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Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless demands action amid growing immigration crisis at Calais as illegal immigrants try to storm ferry to Kent

A Kent MP has said the French authorities must do more to deter would-be migrants from trying to cross the channel illegally to get to Britain.

Mark Reckless, a member of the Home Affairs select committee and Rochester and Strood MP, was responding to a growing crisis at the French port of Calais.

Hoses were turned on about 100 illegal immigrants who tried to board ferries bound for Dover on Wednesday.

MP Mark Reckless, now with Ukip
MP Mark Reckless, now with Ukip

Mr Reckless is planning to visit the town to see the extent of the problems and the growing number of migrants in transit camps.

He said: "If the French authorities want to deter people from turning up at Calais, they need to show them that they cannot get through to the UK.

"I would have no problem in making some sort of financial contribution to the authority... what we cannot do is enter into any agreement for these people to get across.

"These people should be claiming asylum in France if they are genuinely escaping political persecution or harm."

He added: "The message has to get through to these countries is that it is very difficult to get across.

"The best way for that to happen is for the French to take action and return them to their country of origin - even if it is just some of them, that would be better than nothing."

Scores of illegal immigrants tried to storm a ferry to Kent. Picture: Mark Salt
Scores of illegal immigrants tried to storm a ferry to Kent. Picture: Mark Salt

The MP said it was not clear whether the growing numbers gathering in Calais reflected the fact that there was more organised criminal trafficking of would-be asylum seekers.

Around 1,300 migrants are camping in Calais and making regular attempts to reach the UK.

The crisis escalated when a large group of asylum seekers charged onto the ramp of a P&O vessel on Wednesday afternoon after climbing over fences and overpowering port security staff.

But the captain closed the doors and the group was escorted away by French police armed with sub-machine guns.

Earlier this week, Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart threatened to blockade the port of Calais and called for Britain to do more to help control the migrants.

Illegal immigrants breach security at the port of Calais. File picture: Mark Salt
Illegal immigrants breach security at the port of Calais. File picture: Mark Salt

A Border Force spokesman said: "Security at the UK border is our priority, and we continue to strengthen it to stop those who have no right to enter the UK. 

"We have already made improvements to security at Calais, working with the French authorities.

"We have, for instance, upgraded vehicle scanning equipment with the latest technology to detect people hiding in lorries and tankers and have increased the number of body detection dogs stationed at Calais.

"We will continue to bolster security, and the Home Secretary met the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve last week to discuss this important work.

"The ramps to the ferries were immediately raised when a number of migrants entered the port on Wednesday, and none of them were able to board. 

"The incident was quickly brought under control and the French police apprehended all those involved. All freight vehicles inside the port at the time have been re-screened by Border Force."

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