WHY are thousands of would-be migrants so desperate to get into the UK that they are prepared to risk their lives jumping aboard British-bound lorries at Calais?
Well, why not ask them? The BBC did that this week and gleaned some interesting responses.
One man, named only as Moaz, said life in France was “difficult” and he believed he could get a home in England “very quickly”.
A Sudanese man said he had heard Britain would not “leave you” to live in a camp like the one he lives in near Calais port.
“They will receive you with food… house, then after that you will get a chance to ask for asylum,” he said.
Got that? If you offer desperately poor people “free” housing, education, health care and cash benefits, then they will come – and they’ll keep on coming.
The demand from failed states around the world is pretty much limitless, even though the supply – in the form of British taxpayer cash to pay for all this “free” stuff – will eventually run out.
David Cameron said the chaotic, and increasingly violent, scenes at Calais were “unacceptable” but what is he going to do about it?
One solution would be to simply throw open the borders and let in anyone who wants to come.
Labour pretty much tested this idea to destruction during the Blair-Brown years and in the process fundamentally transformed the country – which of course was precisely what they intended.
The result for posh socialists was a win-win; they could pat themselves on the back for their unbounded compassion while employing nannies, cleaners and gardeners on poverty wages.
For working class people at the sharp end of the economy the outlook wasn’t quite so sunny. Wages were depressed and the pressures on housing, schools and the Health Service became unbearable.
Labour smeared anyone who pointed this out as a racist and a bigot – which goes a long way to explain the party’s recent election disaster and why Ukip has eroded Labour’s support in the former strongholds of the North.
The painful lesson that Labour is slowly learning is that you can either have open borders or a lavish welfare state – but you can’t have both.
The alternative to throwing open the doors is to try and regain some control over our own borders – something Cameron and the Conservatives have spectacularly failed to do since 2010.
Record net migration figures last month showed 318,000 more people arrived in the UK than left in 2014, making a mockery of Cameron’s solemn promise to reduce the figure to the “tens of thousands”.
Almost 300,000 of the new arrivals to the UK came from outside the EU – so the problem isn’t entirely about the EU’s freedom of movement rules that Cameron wants to change.
But the EU certainly makes controlling our borders more difficult, if not impossible.
For example, the French could solve their Calais problem at a stroke by making all the migrants camped out there French – and therefore EU – citizens.
Instead of clinging to the axle of a lorry or hiding in the boot of a car these newly minted EU citizens would be perfectly entitled to stroll down to the ferry port clutching their EU passports for the short trip across the Channel to the benefits bonanza that is modern Britain.
The Greeks and Italians could do the same for the migrants crossing the Mediterranean on leaky boats, safe in the knowledge that the new arrivals will not settle in Greece or Italy but will invariably head north – to you know where.
In effect we have sub-contracted control over who can come into our country to Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome. The will of the people, expressed through what used to be our sovereign parliament, is a complete irrelevance.
In Brussels this week Cameron is trying to change this by asking other EU leaders for major reforms – and changes to the free movement of people rule is high on his agenda.
He faces an uphill battle – but if he comes away with anything less than a complete victory then the people of this country will be right to conclude that we will never be able to control our own borders if we remain in the EU.