Channel migrant crossing – latest: UK officials head to France as PM sets out five urgent steps to ease crisis

David Davis says action to ease migrant crisis ‘will be reviewed’, as PM outlines her five priorities to ease migrant flow

Channel migrant crossing – latest: UK officials head to France as PM sets out five urgent steps to ease crisis

UK officials have begun preparations for a possible Channel migrant crisis as Theresa May revealed she would review what action to take.

The prime minister announced she would set out five urgent measures next week to address the illegal migrants in Calais and Dunkirk, following meetings with Europe’s interior ministers earlier this week.

Following a summit of European interior ministers in Brussels, May said ministers had agreed to a “broader package of measures” to improve the situation in Calais and Dunkirk as well as remove illegal immigrants.

“We will publish further proposals at the end of this month that will give new ways to support those making a perilous journey across the Mediterranean in a bid to reach the UK, while tackling those gangs of criminals that are behind their exploitation,” she said.

How Theresa May’s migrant plan could play out in Calais Read more

“We will work with EU states on a new framework for the protection of refugees across the EU and I will set out next week some urgent measures to improve the situation in Calais and Dunkirk.”

Earlier this week, Johnson reportedly said there was “no real chance” of a solution to the crisis.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “They [officials] are working hard to meet their obligations. If something is unlawful then we are dealing with it.”

According to a briefing paper prepared by Home Office officials for ministers and seen by the Guardian, the options include suspending the legal status of migrants in the UK, threatening deportation and, potentially, closing the Channel tunnel.

The document said the UK could suspend a legal status status allowing migrants who had entered the UK before it became a member of the EU to remain in the country or could remove people’s asylum claims if they could not meet the terms of their legal status.

In Calais, there are fears that an increase in asylum seekers will be intercepted by French police and sent back to the UK as an immigration operation sponsored by the French government begins after months of chaos and under-funding.

Asylum applications filed in France have dropped by about 90% since the start of 2016. There have been 378 asylum applications made in 2017 compared with 23,425 in 2016, according to official figures.

May faces an escalating crisis in her bid to end the crisis, with British officials travelling to France on Thursday to begin planning what will happen if the French stop processing asylum claims made in Britain.

The hope is that the French will use a new border fence and security plan to prevent vulnerable people from being turned back, while the plans and advice are being compiled. A Home Office spokeswoman said the UK was “working closely with the French” on the border plans.

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