THE impact of chaos in Calais is set to last all summer, David Cameron warned yesterday as he launched the government’s latest attempt to get a grip on the crisis.
The Prime Minister called the situation “unacceptable” and declared: “We are absolutely on it. We know it needs more work.”
He pledged fresh efforts to boost security in the French port – including extra sniffer dogs and fencing – but critics claimed such measures were a “sticking plaster”.
Options to relieve the chronic traffic on the M20 are being considered but specific locations are yet to be confirmed.
Laws including new powers to tackle illegal working will be fast-tracked, while Britain and France plan to put on flights to return migrants to their home countries.
Mr Cameron said: “This is going to be a difficult issue right across the summer.”
This is going to be a difficult issue right across the summerDavid Cameron
The prediction comes as police and social services are already struggling to cope with the impact of the events across the Channel, while businesses, lorry drivers and residents have been hit by the resulting travel chaos in Kent.
Yesterday, a fire started by striking French ferry workers brought more disruption to Calais, causing gridlock as dozens of migrants made fresh attempts to reach the UK.
About a dozen workers from My Ferry Link burned tyres across a key motorway leading to the port shortly before midday as part of a long-running dispute over 600 job losses. The fire, which sent plumes of black smoke into the air over the port town, brought chaos to the A16 and surrounding roads.
Speaking in Downing Street after chairing a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee, Mr Cameron said no action would be ruled out. He has assembled a team of senior ministers to lead the response.
Britain will work “hand in glove” with the French to tackle the problem, the Prime Minister said.
“The situation is not acceptable and it is absolutely this government’s priority to deal with it in every way we can,” he said.
“We have got people trying to illegally enter our country and here in Britain we have got lorry drivers and holidaymakers facing potential delays.”
The Immigration Bill, which includes powers to tackle illegal working and abuse of the asylum system, will be “sped up” and introduced as soon as parliament returns, No 10 said.
Efforts to reduce the number of migrants in Calais – estimated to be as high as 5,000 – will also be stepped up. A No 10 spokeswoman said: “That includes stronger co-operation on returns, with UK funding and joint flights to countries like Sudan.”
Britain will provide more fencing to secure the platform at Coquelles in addition to equipment already promised. More border force search and dog teams will also be deployed.