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British troops to be sent to France to crack down on people smuggling gangs behind asylum Channel crossings, says South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay

British troops should be dispatched to France to help crackdown on people smugglers and gangs, according to the South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay.

He told Home Secretary Priti Patel in a Commons debate that a concerted effort was needed to curb the rising number of would-be migrants crossing the channel.

RNLI crews rescue a group from a dinghy Picture: RNLI
RNLI crews rescue a group from a dinghy Picture: RNLI

He said: “Just as Poland has welcomed international assistance, could I recommend she makes a broad and generous offer to her French counterparts and ask how many British police and Border Force and perhaps troops we could put on the beaches in France to assist them in their efforts to arrest more evil people smugglers?”

The MP’s intervention came as the Home Office confirmed more than three times the number of migrants had reached the UK by boat this year than had in 2020 total.

Craig Mackinlay
Craig Mackinlay

The Home Office said 886 people arrived on Saturday, bringing the 2021 total to more than 25,700. The figure for last year was 8,469.

The Home Secretary said the UK was continuing its dialogue with the French about the best way forward.

This included the option of setting up processing centres to deal with applications.

She said the government's Nationality and Borders Bill was the "long-term solution" to tackling the issue "on top of a raft of operational and diplomatic work".

Answering urgent questions on the crossings, she said the picture could be even worse had it not been for the preventative steps taken by the UK.

She listed a whole range of initiatives and measures the government had taken to crackdown on the numbers of people crossing the channel.

But she admitted that resolving the crisis would take time and there was no silver bullet, telling MPs: “The only solution to this is wholesale reform of the asylum system which we can deliver."

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