'Shocking' number of migrants crossing Channel 'impossible to defend,' says Ipswich MP

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, inset, has said he is concerned about the number of illegal immigrants crossing the Channel from France

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt, inset, has said he is concerned about the number of illegal immigrants crossing the Channel from France - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown/PA

The number of illegal immigrants crossing the Channel in boats from France is "impossible to defend" - and limits the help the UK can give to Afghan refugees, Ipswich's MP has said.

Tom Hunt said he wants Britain to show compassion by allowing refugees from a "very unstable country where they may be a risk of persecution" to settle here.

The government has said it will take 20,000 fleeing refugees after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, with council leaders pledging that Suffolk will "play its part" in giving people a new home.

But Mr Hunt said people arriving illegally from France were a different case - and said the reported record 828 migrants who reached the UK on 30 boats on Saturday was a figure that was "shocking" and "impossible to defend".


He says he has spoken personally to prime minister Boris Johnson and implored him to authorise intercepting boats, so they can be taken back to France.

"France is a safe, European country," said Mr Hunt, who was elected to parliament in 2019. 

"It's very different to coming from Afghanistan.

"These individuals are coming from France and coming here illegally - and know they are coming here illegally. 

"It feeds that people-smuggling industry, which is something none of us want to do.

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"Unfortunately, for every individual who gets here illegally and stays here, it limits our ability to show compassion to the most genuine of refugees.

"There are many of my constituents who want to show compassion to refugees from Afghanistan.

"We're a small island coming out of the pandemic. We have got significant pressure on public services and pressure on affordable housing.

"We need to balance our desire to help with what we can practically manage.

"It is right that we have procedures in place to make sure we're targeting our help and support for those who need it most.

"We cannot do that if we have lots of people coming illegally from France.

"A lot of people are saying we'd like to help, but are desperately concerned with the situation of illegal crossings from France."

The Border Control Bill currently going through parliament aims to clarify rules on non-UK citizens seeking to enter the country.

However, Mr Hunt said in the short-term that all options should be open in dealing with the issue.