The UK government has seemed flummoxed in recent days about how to best stop migrants and asylum seekers crossing the English Channel in inflatable dinghies – with ministers particularly concerned about the failure of the French authorities to prevent people traffickers organising journeys out of Calais.
Immigration minister Chris Philp travelled to Paris this week in an attempt to strike a deal with the French about the return of migrants. Both sides have since expressed a ‘shared commitment’ to stemming the rise in Channel crossings, and Philp has promised to unveil a ‘joint operational plan’ in the coming days, to completely cut off the route.
If all that seems too unlikely, and far too reliant on the French keeping their side of their bargain, a Tory MP has offered an alternative solution today.
Edward Leigh, the MP for Gainsborough, has proposed instead that the English should take back Calais, which was lost to France under the rule of Mary I in 1558, after 200 years of English rule. Mary was said to have been bereft at the loss of England's last outpost on mainland Europe, and on her death bed said 'When I am dead and opened, you shall find "Calais" lying in my heart'. Now Leigh has taken up her cause, arguing that 'We should never have lost Calais in 1558. Why not take it back?'
— Sir Edward Leigh MP (@EdwardLeighMP) August 10, 2020
Problem with cross-Channel migrants?We should never have lost Calais in 1558. Why not take it back?On second thoughts, cheaper to pay the French a few million to stop them on the beaches. pic.twitter.com/lana4SjEbj
An imminent invasion may well solve the problem of migrants trying to cross the Channel, although Mr S wonders if the residents of Calais, who haven’t been subjects of England for over 450 years, might have something to say about the change in administration. Even Leigh seemed to suggest that bunging a few million to the French might be an easier option.
But could his scheme win the support of the Prime Minister at least? Mr S notes that Boris Johnson has been a fervent supporter of a bridge across the Channel in recent years. Perhaps he was less keen on cross-border unity, and was in fact preparing for an invasion…