13:49 GMT19 June 2021
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    Bernard Cazeneuve, the French interior minister, has said that the UK can expect "countermeasures" if it votes to leave the European Union during the In/Out referendum due to be held before the end of 2017.

    Cazeneuve is the minister responsible for dealing with the asylum seeker camps in and around Calais, where thousands are camped out attempting to cross the English Channel to the UK. The situation has led to the frequent closure of the Eurotunnel freight service as well as hundreds of attempts by migrants to board wagons making their way to the UK.

    In a special agreement with the French — known as the Sangatte and Le Touquet treaties — the UK Border Agency processes migrant applications on French soil, which means that — when they are refused permission to travel to the UK by train or ferry — they remain in France.

    It is at that point they make their way to the freight terminal at Coquelles, near Calais, where they have repeatedly cut through security fences and stormed the freight terminal, causing the rail services to be canceled — which, in turn, causes massive delays and traffic chaos either side of the English Channel.

    There have been calls in France to tear up the agreements and allow the migrants total freedom to cross the Channel. The migrants would end up in and around Dover, causing massive chaos and a great deal of public anger.

    A migrant crawls under a fence as he attempts to access the Channel Tunnel in Calais, northern France, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. Some thousands of migrants have been crossing fence border controls near the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain, trying to board freight trains or trucks destined for Britain
    © AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti
    A migrant crawls under a fence as he attempts to access the Channel Tunnel in Calais, northern France, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015. Some thousands of migrants have been crossing fence border controls near the Channel Tunnel linking France and Britain, trying to board freight trains or trucks destined for Britain

    Asked by the Daily Telegraph newspaper about the possible tearing up of the treaties, Cazeneuve said:

    "I have no intention of participating in the referendum campaign in Britain. However, it is obvious that leaving the EU will always result in countermeasures."

    Rising Anger Over Migrants and EU

    If the border controls were to be removed from the French side, asylum seekers would be allowed to exit from France, resulting in thousands of people flooding across to Dover and the surrounding region.

    An aerial view of the migrant camp known as the New Jungle Camp, near to Calais, northern France, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015.
    © AP Photo / Michel Spingler
    An aerial view of the migrant camp known as the New Jungle Camp, near to Calais, northern France, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015.

    Cazeneuve admitted that — were the border controls at Calais changed — it would lead to a flood of asylum seekers crossing France to enter the UK.

    "Calling for the border with the English to be opened is not a responsible solution. It would send a signal to people smugglers and would lead migrants to flow to call in far greater numbers. A humanitarian disaster would ensue."

    There has been rising anger in the area around Dover at the traffic chaos that has been caused by the migrants, bringing the Eurotunnel freight service to a halt by invading the depot in Calais, attempting to ride the wagons and escape to the UK.

    If anti-EU sentiment continues to rise because of the Calais crisis — which Cameron has admitted will not be over for a long time — it will badly affect his campaign for the UK to remain in Europe and make it tougher for him to retain his credibility when arguing to remain in the EU.

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    Tags:
    refugee crisis, Brexit, asylum seekers, treaty, EU membership, referendum, border, migrants, Channel Tunnel, UK Border Agency, European Union, Bernard Cazeneuve, David Cameron, Calais, Great Britain, United Kingdom, France
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