Calais mayor: Using Royal Navy to tackle migrants ‘declaration of maritime war’

Calais mayor: Using Royal Navy to tackle migrants ‘declaration of maritime war’
The fierce words came as more migrants arrived in the UK on Wednesday

Sending the Royal Navy into the English Channel to deal with migrant crossings is a “declaration of maritime war”, the mayor of Calais has said.

Natacha Bouchart told France 3 that the British Government must take responsibility and called on Priti Patel’s French counterpart to push them on the issue.

Her fierce words came as more migrants arrived in the UK on Wednesday – the ninth day in a row.

At least 19 asylum seekers who arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats and were due to be deported on Wednesday have had their removals paused, the PA news agency has learned.

Interviewed on a French beach, Ms Bouchart discussed the impact of the migrant crisis on her city.

She was asked about the Home Office’s formal request for military assistance to help tackle migrant crossings.

Ms Bouchart described it as a “declaration of maritime war”.

She said her city should not have to continue to suffer economically and in terms of image and humanitarian reception.

A group of people thought to be migrants have their temperatures checked as they are brought into Dover by Border Force officers (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

She also criticised what she said she saw as Britain giving France “lessons” in how to deal with small boat crossings and said the British Government should take responsibility.

More migrants wearing face masks and orange life-jackets were seen coming into Dover port aboard Border Force vessels on Wednesday.

After being brought ashore, they had their temperatures checked by officials in fluorescent vests.

Border Force and the RNLI continued to be active in the English Channel as they responded to attempted migrant crossings on Wednesday.

The Royal Air Force was also providing aerial support for the Border Force for the second time this week, with a Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft flying from Kinloss Barracks in Scotland to monitor the situation in the English Channel.

A group of people thought to be migrants disembark in Dover (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

A legal challenge was launched this week in a bid to halt the deportation of a group of asylum seekers who arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in small boats.

Up to 20 people were due to be put on a charter flight to France and Germany on Wednesday, according to campaigners.

On Wednesday, the Duncan Lewis law firm said that the 19 people it was representing had all had their removals deferred by the Home Office, or stayed by a court.

The firm previously said it was representing people from Iran, Yemen, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan who had “strong claims for asylum and real reasons for wanting to stay in the UK” but had been told they were being deported.

A Duncan Lewis spokeswoman said: “While it is clearly good news that we ensured that 19 of our clients were not removed on the charter flight this morning, it should never have come to this in the first place.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage spoke to reporters in Dover (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Our legal action acted as the last resort for these asylum seekers, many of whom are victims of torture, trafficking, and sexual assault – who should not have been on this plane in the first place.”

It is not clear if the flight left, and if so, how many people were on it.

Speaking to reporters in Dover, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said: “With all the tough talk and with it happening every day, it’s becoming a bit of a national humiliation.

“Until people know that coming via this route they will not be allowed to stay, they will just keep on coming.”

He also defended the use of the word “invasion” to describe migrants arriving in the UK by sea.

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