15:09 GMT28 September 2020
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    On Monday, Prime Minister Johnson dwelled on the migration issue, asserting that attempts by refugees to cross into the UK are nothing but "bad and dangerous" undertakings.

    Mayor of the French port city of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, has addressed Boris Johnson over his recent remarks on Channel crossings by illegal migrants, urging him to change his approach to the issue.

    "I consider Boris Johnson's pronouncements to be a provocation", said Bouchart, mayor of the French town that hundreds of migrants have left this summer, heading in small, perilous boats for their British destination - the city of Dover.

    "If the migrants want to cross [the Channel], it is because the British themselves put out the call. They have done so by failing to touch their legislation for 20 years", she said.

    She went on to appeal to Johnson, claiming he "urgently needs to calm down, and urgently needs to change your methods of … dealing with migrants", she said, referring to Johnson's comments about the increased migrant crossings to Dover as "very bad and stupid and dangerous".

    Bouchart also directed a separate message to French Home Minister Gérald Darmanin: "Do not give in, because the British don't know how to negotiate. It's only by standing firm that you achieve something", she urged.

    Migrants, background, watch French gendarmes patrolling on the road leading to the port in Calais, northern France, Friday Feb.2, 2018. Police reinforcements are arriving in the French port city of Calais after clashes among migrants left 22 people injured, as the interior minister warned of a worrying spike in violence
    © AP Photo / Michel Spingler
    Migrants, background, watch French gendarmes patrolling on the road leading to the port in Calais, northern France, Friday Feb.2, 2018. Police reinforcements are arriving in the French port city of Calais after clashes among migrants left 22 people injured, as the interior minister warned of a worrying spike in violence

    'Maritime War'?

    Bouchart earlier charged that the UK government needs to shoulder responsibility for the migrant deadlock on its borders and ripped the Home Office for requesting military assistance.

    "It is a declaration of maritime war", she said, blasting the Brits for "contenting themselves with giving lessons and by subjecting Calasians to this situation for too long".

    In immediate response, Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Defence Select Committee, blasted her for her choice of strong words, accusing the mayor of using "irresponsible language". He went on to call for greater collaboration in the field with the UK's neighbours:

    "Let's stay focused on increasing Anglo-French collaboration to solve the problem, not ratcheting up tensions with dramatic statements", Ellwood said. 

    The emotional exchanges came as even more migrants arrived in the UK on Wednesday, the ninth day in a row.

    An inflatable boat used by migrants is brought by Border Forces crew at Dover harbour, in Dover, Britain 11 August 2020
    © REUTERS / Peter Nicholls
    An inflatable boat used by migrants is brought by Border Forces crew at Dover harbour, in Dover, Britain 11 August 2020

    This Week's Migrant Crossings: 14 People Sent Back

    Britain's Border Force and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution stepped up work in the English Channel as they responded to attempted migrant crossings on Wednesday, with France, for its part, stating it is doing everything it can on the matter.

    However, it acknowledges the numbers have increased dramatically this year.

    For Britain’s part, the Royal Air Force has provided aerial support for the Border Force at least two times this week, with a Poseidon patrol aircraft flying from Kinloss Barracks in Scotland to keep tabs on what is happening in the English Channel. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also authorised the use of Shadow R1 aircraft for monitoring purposes. Both will provide support "over the coming weeks subject to weather conditions and the Border Force's requirements", the MoD said.

    The other day, the Home Office called in a charter flight to take 14 migrants to France and Germany after the department found they had already claimed asylum in one of these countries but received no response. The Home Office argued they should have their asylum claims dealt with there under the so-called Dublin Convention, whereby an asylum claim must be decided on in the first safe European country of a refugee's arrival.

    There is no conclusive data from the UK authorities on those who arrive in the country in overcrowded boats, but analysis by PA Media and data from, the French authorities put the number of those who have crossed the Channel in the past several months at more than 4,100.

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    migration, migrants, Boris Johnson, France, UK, Dover, Calais
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