Securing our borders - Mike Hookem MEP Conference Speech

Published Sep 25, 2015

3278768777.jpgWe have all seen the images in the media, over the last few weeks, of desperate migrants making their way across Europe; of burning tires on French motorways and of migrants climbing into trucks, hoping to reach the UK.

However, the media’s version of events in no way tells the whole story.

My direct involvement in the Calais crisis began in June when I received an e-mail from a constituent who worked in the haulage industry.

It read:

“The situation in Calais is very dangerous and many of our drivers have been threatened.”

“The migrants are running amok and there seems to be a press blackout on how dangerous it is for British drivers.”

“Please help!”

I had seen the pictures of migrants trying to climb into trucks, but I am a believer that to fully understand a situation, you have to see it for yourself.

So as a “hands on” kind of guy, I made the decision to ride along with a truck driver and see exactly what was happening to British hauliers in Calais.

While I expected my trip to be no holiday, I had no idea what was to come.

In the course of my first and three subsequent trips to northern France, I would:

Be threatened with a gun;
Disturb a group of migrants cutting through the tunnel fence;
Get tear gassed in a riot;
Come face to face with people traffickers;
Be surrounded by gangs of migrants wielding crowbars as I sat helpless in a truck;
And end up climbing the fence to the Eurotunnel twice, because one national newspaper did not believe I could have done it the first time.

However, I must admit, climbing the fence was quite amusing, as one social media user accused me of climbing a fence in my back garden.

I only wish my house was big enough to have a fence of that size.

But even this had a serious point.

If a 61 year old man could easily scale the fence to the Eurotunnel tracks, then so could many of the fit, young migrants who can be seen roaming the streets of Calais in their thousands.

To be honest, what I found in Calais shocked me to my core and I couldn’t quite believe the dangers British hauliers were facing.

Here is a short video of what I found.

YouTube video here  (2 minutes 30 seconds)

As you have just seen in the film, the situation in northern France is totally out of control and politician on both sides of the English Channel and in the EU, are still floundering around for a response.

It took the Home Secretary weeks to eventually go see the “Jungle” camp in Calais and I doubt her experience was anything like mine.

Sadly, Jean Claude Junkers, the President of the European Commission has been nowhere near.

All we have had from him is a pronouncement that the migrants of Calais are “Britain’s problem.”

Give the man a medal for his leadership!

So let me make one thing clear.

While I have every sympathy for those fleeing from the dangers of war, many of those I found in Calais and the rest of Northern France were not fleeing Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq like the media will have you believe.

Instead, I found Eritreans, Somalis, Sudanese, Pakistanis and Nigerians, who had no legal right to enter the UK, but who were determined to come here anyway.

There were also few families, children or even women.

What I did see were thousands of young men aged between 20 - 35, roaming the streets, sitting in makeshift camps that boast shops, churches, mosques and nightclubs; waiting for their chance to get to Britain.

I even asked one migrant what he would do if the French gave him a passport.

His answer was come to Britain, as his wife was already here having already made the trip on the back of a truck.

And in their desperation to get to the UK, the migrants think nothing of cutting their way into trucks at massive cost to our haulage companies, or cutting the fences and climbing on to the tracks of the Eurotunnel.

It must be remembered, these are criminal acts that if you or I attempted, would see us go to prison!

The situation is in fact now so bad, that many hauliers have pulled out of using Calais altogether.

On my first trip it was easy to spot British truckers, there are very few to be found their today.

And while I did meet a few genuine refugees, the vast majority of the people I met were economic migrants, many of whom were already deep in the clutches of the organised gangs of people traffickers who operate openly across the whole of Northern France.

Travelling from Cherbourg to Zeebrugge to assess the situation, I came face to face with the various forms of people trafficking.

In Cherbourg, I met girls working the red light district who could not speak French, but who were happy to chat in English.

In Dieppe, I watched as Albanian people traffickers joked with a security guard before scaling the fences into the port; looking to hide migrants on trucks that had already cleared security.

At a truck stop in Calais, I saw migrants being herded from one truck to another, and watched on as gangs of well-dressed men organised the first invasions of the Eurotunnel via mobile phone.

And as you saw in the first film; in Dunkirk I came face to face with a man toting a gun as I walked into an EU funded migrant camp, that one French charity worker said was dominated by the “English mafia”.

As it turned out, the traffickers were not English at all and were actually Albanians driving British registered cars; who would stop at nothing to protect their vile trade.

The simple fact is, this trade in human misery is wide spread and is only going to get worse.

The port in Calais, while now protected behind miles of fencing is still struggling to cope with the sheer numbers of migrants coming through.

And despite every truck being checked, only one in twenty cars and caravans comes under scrutiny and the smaller ports are already feeling the effects of this fast moving problem.
The sad fact is, this problem is not going to go away and time soon.

However, the most worrying aspect for me as UKIP defence spokesman is the reports we have of Islamic State terrorists now operating in the camps in Calais and the appearance of IS flags on the streets of Germany.

In March, Islamic State warned they were going to send thousands of fighters to Europe and it seems their promise has been fulfilled.

Only last week, the Director General of MI5 said the UK now faces the gravest threat we have seen since 911, due to the threat posed by Islamic state.

How long is it going to be before one of the many attacks that have failed this year succeeds?

So what role does the EU play in all this? After all, they are the ones who opened the borders of Europe.

They are the ones who failed to enforce their own rules on migration and asylum; a situation that has allowed migrants from across the globe cherry pick which country they wish to stay in.

They are the one’s who refuse to take responsibility and stop this crisis at source.

And they are the one’s who demand that the UK take unlimited numbers of migrants from other EU states, leaving our public services creaking; our housing stocks in crisis and our country struggling to honour its long standing tradition of helping those in true need.  

Well obviously, the EU throws open the borders and let another 120,000 migrants into Europe, totally unchecked.

When Jean Claude Junkers said the migrant crisis was the UK’s problem, he was, in a sense, right.

The migrant crisis is only a symptom of the wider ranging political disease that the EU represents.

Now is the time to reject the dictatorial EU project that threatens our heritage, our traditions and our way of life.

Now is the time to regain control of our own borders and make our own decisions on the security of our nation.

And now is the time to put an end to the situation where are own elected politicians must ask how high, every time the EU say jump.

Let’s get our country back! Vote for Exit.

Thank you.

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