Migrant Channel crossings 'stupid and dangerous' says Boris Johnson as UK re-examines asylum law

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By Euronews
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File pic   -  Copyright  Marine Nationale/AP

Boris Johnson has said he wants to work together with France to curb the number of migrants taking the perilous journey across the Channel to reach the UK.

The UK prime minister, who made the comments after a record-breaking 235 people reached British shores in 20 vessels in one day last week, has said he also wants to review laws that "make it difficult to send [migrants] away again".

Speaking on Monday, Johnson said Channel crossings amounted to a "very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do", as he looked toward his European neighbour for help.

He said: "We've got a problem which is that there are people who want to come from around the world to this country because obviously it's a great place to be.

"There's no doubt that it would be helpful if we could work with our French friends to stop them getting over the Channel."

READ MORE | French and UK authorities intercept record number of migrants in the English Channel

It comes as the UK's Border Force intercepted another 20 migrants - from Syria - on Monday, and amid reports that a surveillance aircraft had also been deployed for "assistance".

Referring to those arranging for migrants to pile into dinghies for the crossing from France to the UK, the prime minister said it was the act of "cruel and criminal gangs" that were risking the lives of the vulnerable.

He noted the Channel being a "pretty dangerous stretch of water in potentially un-seaworthy vessels".

READ MORE | UK military to step in to intercept migrant boats in Dover

Channel crossings are particularly dangerous without planning due to the stretch of water also being home to the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Dinghies are, therefore, particularly at risk as it is more difficult to move out of harms way when potentially crossing the paths of much larger vessels.

"We want to stop that. Working with the French, make sure that they understand that this isn't a good idea, this is a very bad and stupid and dangerous and criminal thing to do," Johnson said.

"But then there's a second thing we've got to do and that is to look at the legal framework that we have that means that when people do get here, it is very, very difficult to then send them away again even though blatantly they've come here illegally."

READ MORE | Legal arguments ensue as migrants found in Italy vanish and found hours later outside the EU

Around 4,000 people have reached the UK by crossing the Channel in small boats this year alone, with the record-breaking day reached last Thursday.

Once intercepted by Border Force, migrants are then taken for processing, before being moved to an intake unit.

From there, they can apply for asylum and after which they will be given accommodation funded by the government until their legal case has been decided.

Euronews has reached out to the Home Office for figures on how many interceptions turn into asylum applications.