‘Brexit’ will cause migrant ‘Jungle’ camps to grow in Britain – ex-UKBA chief

British Prime Minister David Cameron. © Kacper Pempel

Leaving the EU would allow more than 50,000 extra asylum seekers to reach Britain each year and create a ‘Jungle’ camp on the south coast of England, a former head of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) has warned.

Rob Whiteman said on Monday that the scrapping of a bilateral British/French treaty would mean British officials would not be allowed to make their usual border checks in France. This would lead to people sneaking into the UK inside vehicles.

His remarks will provide the basis for David Cameron’s pro-EU argument, where the prime minister will argue that leaving the European Union will result in camps like the Calais ‘Jungle’ being erected in the south of England.

Under the 2003 Le Touquet treaty between Britain and France, Britain is allowed to make border control checks at the French border, meaning refugees or migrants found stowing away in vehicles will remain in France.

Cameron is expected to lay out his argument soon after he calls the date of the referendum, which will be announced later in February. The Prime Minister hopes to hold the vote on June 23.

Rob Whiteman, former chief executive of the UKBA, has warned the treaty would likely end if Britain leaves the EU, and said continuation is vital to control the flow of asylum seekers into the country.

There’s been lots of up-sides for the UK since the treaty was negotiated in 2003, not much up-side for the French. The reason we wanted the treaty is that if you are found in a concealed vehicle, you’re a clandestine, once you’ve set foot on British soil you can claim asylum whereas if you are found concealed in a vehicle on French soil you can’t claim asylum for Britain so before that treaty was put in place, asylum claims were running at 80,000 a year in the UK. They are now running at about 30,000 a year. So we would probably see another 50,000 asylum claims a year,” he said.

At the time the French felt there would be an upside for them in that if it was clear that people couldn’t easily get to Britain it would stop the Sangatte building up again but history has shown that not to be the case. The French authorities still have a huge amount of pressure on their side and now ‘The Jungle’ as it is known, has developed.”

The PM is expected to make national security and immigration the pivotal points of his pro-EU argument, suggesting that leaving the bloc would spark an influx of refugees and asylum seekers.

Cameron will also argue that being part of the EU will allow Britain to gain vital intelligence which could prevent a Paris-style attack taking place in the UK.

Euroskeptics have dismissed the claims as “scaremongering.” Founder of the out campaign group Leave.EU said Cameron is on the back foot after failing to negotiate a deal on immigration.

Having failed to deliver the fundamental reform of the European Union that he promised in his Bloomberg speech, the prime minister is now resorting to scaremongering.

“The agreement we have to process migrants in Calais is with France, not the EU. There is no reason for this to change on leaving the EU,” he said.

Former Defense Secretary Liam Fox also dismissed the claims and accused Cameron of making a reactionary statement, saying he was “sad and disappointed” to hear Cameron making such claims.