France accused over Calais migrants
Press Association – Migrants protesting in Calais, demanding human rights protection
“The general principle which every member state of the European Union has subscribed to is that refugees, people fleeing persecution, should apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach,” Lord Howard told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“France used to take this very seriously. When I was home secretary, which was quite a long time ago now, we had an agreement with France under which if people came to the UK from France and claimed asylum we returned them to France and France dealt with their claim.
“That is what really ought to happen.”
The Tory peer said the root issue was that France had “lost control of its borders” after signing up to the Schengen agreement that “dismantled” restrictions between countries.
He added that the previous French administration under president Nicolas Sarkozy had recognised that and threatened to withdraw from Schengen – which the UK never signed up to.
“The mayor of Calais ought to be directing her frustration at president (Francois) Hollande and getting him to take the kind of action that president Sarkozy was talking about,” Lord Howard said.
“We have control of our borders. But it is the countries of the Schengen agreement that ought to get their act together and deal with this problem. We have retained control of our borders, and it is about time members of the Schengen agreement did the same.”