UKIP’s prospective party leader, Clapham family solicitor Elizabeth Jones, has urged the government to adopt an alternative plan to try to better manage the ongoing migrant crisis.
Ms Jones, who contested the Tooting by-election this year but lost out to Labour’s Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, has warned of a ‘mass exodus’ of migrants to Britain.
She warned that a Calais-style migrant camp could spring up on the south coast, should the Le Toquet treaty, which permits the control of Britain’s border on French soil, be terminated.
This has been threatened by all three leading candidates in the upcoming French presidential election oppose the treaty and have vowed to repeal it when in power.
Ms Jones said: “The British government has absolutely no plan for what to do if and when the French government changes next year.
“There would be nothing to stop migrants from walking or sailing on their own to Britain.”
What effect Britain’s exit from the European Union will have on the control of its border in France is unknown, but it is expected that Theresa May will work to try to keep all existing arrangements in place.
In the weeks following the vote to leave the EU in June, the PM said that she had reached an agreement with French president Francois Hollande to keep Britain’s border controls in Calais.
Ms Jones is unconvinced that the agreement would be maintained after a change of government in France.
A proposed plan put forward by Ms Jones involves working with France and using British overseas aid money to dismantle the so-called ‘jungle’ encampment in Calais, and to build a new ‘resettlement community’ in another location.
Under the plans, the resettlement community would receive migrants, and house both immigration officials and NGOs such as the UN High Commission for Refugees.
The UKIP deputy chair said: “These communities would be waiting to receive refugees at a location much nearer to where these migrants originate.”
Ms Jones emphasised that all unsuccessful asylum applicants from countries deemed ‘unacceptable as a destination for deportation’ would be able to remain in the resettlement community until the ‘military strife’ has passed.
She listed North Africa as one potential location for the project, citing the region’s Muslim majority and prominent use of the English and French languages as pivotal factors.
However, Pete Elliott, co-convenor for the Lambeth Green Party, who stood against Ms Jones in the Gipsy Hill by-election in June, criticised the plans.
Mr Elliott argued the proposals demonstrated an ‘inhuman lack of concern for the victims’, and that the long term answer is not simply another camp.
He said: “The goal of Ms Jones’s proposal is to push the problem as far from home as possible, when the opposite is what is needed.”
Debates about the migrant crisis have dominated European politics since the start of the Syrian refugee crisis.
Ms Jones’s plans come in light of an announcement last week by the French Minister of the Interior that the ‘jungle’ encampment will be gradually dismantled in an effort to combat worsening conditions and ease congestion around Calais.
Mr Elliot advocated for Britain to pursue a resettlement scheme that provides homes for the displaced men, women and children who are in need.