Nigel Farage discusses whether he will return to politics
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Former Home Secretary Lord Blunkett warned that creating safe routes for migrants to come to the UK could put the former UKIP leader in Downing Street. He said that, while the UK takes on far fewer asylum seekers than France and Germany, people often believe that there is a “flood” coming in.
Speaking to the BBC, who suggested that introducing safe routes would not result in a “huge” spike in asylum claims, Lord Blunkett said: “Well, the numbers might not be but Nigel Farage might end up being prime minister and that could even be worse than what we have got at the moment.
He added: “The politics is toxic when it comes to migration … we have got something like a third less asylum seekers than the French and vastly lower numbers than the Germans.
“But that doesn’t stop people actually believing that there is a flood coming in and so what we have got to do is to work with our counterparts in Europe.”
This comes as at least 27 people died while attempting to cross the channel.
Amnesty International has said that the “government’s failure to open safe and legal routes is a critical factor in tragic deaths in the Channel.”
The organisation’s UK Refugee and Migrant Rights Director, Steve Valdez-Symonds called on the government to “urgently take decisive action to prevent more loss of life.”
He added: “The UK must make it a priority to share responsibility with other countries to receive people into its asylum system – they must do this by providing safe and legal routes and encourage others to do the same.
“We must remember that dangerous journeys take place because the Government provides no safe alternative for people to exercise their right to seek asylum here.
“If the Government is truly concerned with tackling these gangs and their abuse of people, they must set up safe asylum routes, so people no longer need to depend on smugglers.”
The Labour Party previously promised in their election manifesto to “establish safe and legal routes for asylum seekers” to come to the UK.
Nick Thomas-Symonds, the Shadow Home Secretary, recently spoke of the need to provide “properly managed safe and legal routes”.
Priti Patel, however, has urged France to allow Border Force, police officers and even troops to patrol its beaches to help intercept migrants and prevent the dangerous crossings, adding that the UK has a “generous, humane approach” to refugees.
She reiterated the request in a phone call with French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, asking also for a returns agreement that would allow for Channel migrants to be sent back to France from the UK.
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She said: “We are not working just to end these crossings because we don’t care and we’re heartless.
“The UK has a clear and a generous, humane approach to asylum seekers and refugees.
“Yes, people should come here legally and the system must be fair, but the main issue is this: crossing the Channel in small boats is extremely dangerous and [Wednesday] was the moment that many of us had feared for many years.
“The criminals that facilitate these journeys are motivated by self-interest and profit, not by compassion.
“They threaten, intimidate, bully, and assault the people who get into these boats, and they have a complete absolute disregard for human life.”
According to Ms Patel, the police officers would be “unwarranted,” without powers of arrest, to avoid conflicts over sovereignty and could be under French command.
She also promised an additional package of ANPR cameras to catch smugglers, drones and surveillance equipment.
However, the reaction in France was mixed.
The Republican MP for Calais Pierre-Henri Dumont called the proposal a “crazy solution” that “will not change anything” because it would require thousands of officers to police it.
He added: “There is also the question of sovereignty.
“I am not sure t.he British people would accept the other way round if the French army was patrolling the British shore.”
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