Majorities of French and British people support sending the British Army in to Calais – but British people are quick to blame France for the crisis
For weeks now thousands of migrants originating from Africa, Asia and the Middle East have been camped at the English border in Calais. There were 600 attempts to enter the Eurotunnel into England on Monday and 400 a night on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday the first man entered England via the tunnel, after walking 31 miles in the dark.
Calls for the British Army to assist French authorities in Calais have died down in the papers, but new YouGov research in France and Britain reveals that majorities in both countries would support sending them in.
British people are more supportive (67% support and 19% oppose), but most French people also favour action from our armed forces (54% support, 27% oppose).
Things may have moved faster if the border was right on our doorstep, but the tunnel and sea add extra security. French police unions in Calais have been angered by the situation, saying they are "doing Britain's dirty work". You might expect French people to be blame the British government more, but actually they’re most likely to say the French and British government have equal responsibility (41% say this) or that neither of them do (33%).
British people on the other hand are quick to blame the French government (40% say they’re more responsible). Only 11% of French people blame the British government, however 43% would support moving English border controls to Dover and Folkstone, while 13% oppose this and 43% are unsure.
Although research shows migrants would have relatively similar experiences in France and Britain – with regards to asylum terms, benefits, housing and work – many think life would be better here.
British people say the main perception migrants have picked up on is that we’re more generous with welfare (74% choose this), but in France most people (55%) think it’s because migrants see Britain as easier to work in without official documentation. This view has been pressed by Calais’ deputy mayor, who suggested the UK should introduce ID cards, as the last Labour government attempted to do unsuccessfully.
French authorities estimate around 3,000 migrants are camped in Calais, and Eurotunnel says it has blocked 37,000 attempts to enter England since January. A segment for the BBC1 religious programme Songs of Praise is reportedly being filmed at the camp, but this has been criticised as patronising, or irresponsible meddling in a sensitive political issue.