A former immigration minister warned Britain’s exit from the European Union could cause a surge of up to 500,000 immigrants.
Phil Woolas, a former Labour MP under Gordon Brown, explained that, “Every time the U.K. Government announces a cap on immigration, thousands rush in before the deadline.”
Woolas said his colleagues call this a “fire sale.” He also claimed fires sales have happened before. According to Woolas, in 2008, the Labour Party announced restrictions on non-EU unskilled labor visas, which sparked the largest increase in unskilled visa applications that Woolas “had ever seen.”
The head of Britain’s border control firm, Eurotunnel, echoed his prediction. Jacques Gounon told reporters that “Brexit had given migrants a clear signal that the Anglo-French border would become a huge wall, similar to the Berlin Wall, almost impossible to overcome” and that their fears would “generate additional migrant pressure.”
Eurotunnel recently unveiled an army of new drones to help police the border crossing in Calais, France. The Le Touquet Treaty in 2003 laid out an agreement between France and Britain that allows British officers to carry out border checks in the Calais camps.
The current crisis at the border can be traced back to an incident in October of last year in which “100 migrants broke through a fence and entered the Eurotunnel terminal.” Three months earlier, BBC reported that “some 2,000 migrants a night were trying to get into the terminal.” Similar incidents stretch back as far as 1999.
The president of France’s northern region, Xavier Bertrand, wants to do away with this arrangement. Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart also dislikes the treaty and has advocated for the camps to be moved to the English crossing point in Kent.
The French government has insisted immigration treaties “are bilateral” and that French agitations “will not lead to changes in immigration treaties with the U.K.”
Gounon has stated he does not support moving the current immigration sites into Britain. He added that he does not “see what else can be done.”
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