Video: Calais crisis will last all summer, Cameron warns

Two migrants cling to the top of a lorry as it leaves the Eurotunnel site in Folkestone, Kent, following their arrival from Calais via the Channel Tunnel.
Two migrants cling to the top of a lorry as it leaves the Eurotunnel site in Folkestone, Kent, following their arrival from Calais via the Channel Tunnel.
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The Calais migrant crisis is set to last all summer, David Cameron has warned.

Speaking in Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, the Prime Minister said the situation was “unacceptable”.

He added: “This is going to be a difficult issue right across the summer.”

Police and social services in Kent are already struggling to cope with the impact of an unprecedented surge in migrants attempting to reach the UK.

Operation Stack, which turns the M20 into a giant lorry park as a result of chaos on the other side of the Channel, has hit tourists, businesses and lorry drivers.

Mr Cameron said no action would be ruled out as he announced that extra sniffer dogs and fencing will be sent to France and Ministry of Defence land will be used to ease congestion to try to help deal with the crisis.

However, the measures were described as a “sticking plaster” by the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

Mr Cameron has assembled a team of senior ministers to lead the response to the escalating crisis.

“We rule nothing out in taking action to deal with this very serious problem. We are absolutely on it. We know it needs more work,” he said.

Mr Cameron said Britain would work “hand in glove” with the French to tackle the problem

“The situation is not acceptable and it is absolutely this Government’s priority to deal with it in every way we can,” he said.

“We have got people trying to illegally enter our country and here in Britain we have got lorry drivers and holidaymakers facing potential delays.

“We are going to take action right across the board starting with helping the French on their side of the border. We are going to put in more fencing, more resources, more sniffer dog teams, more assistance in any way we can in terms of resources.

“Here in Kent we need to do more to help lorry drivers and holidaymakers. We are going to do everything we can to reduce the disruption, including using MoD land, and we will be looking at other options we can take as well.”

The Prime Minister will speak to French president Francois Hollande about the crisis later today.

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the RHA, told BBC News: “Quite simply the measures I’ve just heard from David Cameron aren’t enough, they are just sticking plasters in terms of trying to resolve this problem.

“The threats these hauliers are facing every day is unacceptable. The impact financially on the haulage industry and the broader UK economy is unbelievable.

“Until we get the right measures in place and until we actually contain the situation in Calais with the migrants, this situation is a crisis and it’s out of control. I really don’t think these measures are enough right now.”

James Hookham, deputy chief executive of the Freight Transport Association, said: “We are really pleased it is on the Prime Minister’s desk and he seems to have got it.

“Let’s just hope he can manufacture a genuine solution to this.”

He welcomed measures to increase security at Calais and possible use of MoD land, but also called for Britain to press France to make the port a “strike-free zone” after wildcat industrial action by ferry workers.

“The migrants have been there for 15 years,” he said. “The wheels really came off the wagon two weeks ago because the ferry workers went on strike.”

Calais police union representative Gilles Debove told the programme: “There’s a real attraction for the migrants to go to the UK. There are several appealing factors.

“Firstly, in Great Britain, the migrants can work without a residency permit or identity card and they can work illegal.

“In France, we have a police force trained to fight against such illegal work and in the UK you don’t have any police force tracking these people who work in the black market.”