I just want to say that I’m shocked and appalled and deeply saddened by the loss of life that we have seen in the Channel. I think that the details are still coming in, but more than 20 people have lost their lives, as you know. My thoughts and sympathies are, first of all, with the victims and their families. It’s an appalling thing that they have suffered.
But I also want to say that this disaster underscores how dangerous it is to cross the Channel in this way. And it also shows how vital it is that we now step up our efforts to break the business model of the gangsters who are sending people to sea in this way.
That’s why it’s so important that we accelerate, if we possibly can, all the measures contained in our Borders and Nationalities Bill, so that we distinguish between people who come here legally, and people who come here illegally, but we also use every power that we can, we leave no stone unturned, to demolish the business proposition of the human traffickers and the gangsters.
And, of course, we have to work with our French friends, with our European partners, and I say to our partners across the Channel, now is the time for us all to step up, to work together, to do everything we can to break these gangs who are literally getting away with murder.
What this shows is that the gangs who are sending people to sea in these dangerous craft will literally stop at nothing. But what, I’m afraid, it also shows is that the operation that’s being conducted by our friends on the beaches, supported as you know with £54 million from the UK to help patrol the beaches, all the technical support that we’ve been giving, they haven’t been enough.
Our offer is to increase our support, but also to work together with our partners on the beaches concerned, on the launching grounds for these boats.
And that’s something I hope that will be acceptable now, in view of what has happened, because there is no doubt at all that the gangs concerned, unless they are shown that their business model won’t work, that they can’t simply get people over the Channel from France to the UK, they will continue to deceive people, to put people’s lives at risk and, as I say, to get away with murder.
We’ve had difficulties persuading some of our partners, particularly the French, to do things in a way that we think the situation deserves, but I understand the difficulties that all countries, that all countries face, but what we want now is to do more together. And that’s the offer that we’re making.