NIGEL Farage is nothing if not determined. Last night he released a video showing how the French Navy routinely escort illegal immigrants crossing the Channel in dinghies into British waters. It seems they are then picked up by the Border Force and delivered safely on to UK soil so that they can begin their new lives in Britain.
This is a scandal of epic proportions. More than 1,000 immigrants are known to have arrived in Britain since lockdown began on March 23. Others will have slipped through the net. This is despite Migration Watch’s constant alerts.
Farage has been chipping away at this issue for weeks. The video is the culmination of a long investigation by him. He has undertaken this work because he believes it badly needs to be exposed for a host of reasons. Not only are these men (he says they are mainly men) probably not refugees (they are economic migrants fleeing the safety of France), but they are breaking the law. We know nothing about them, meaning there is a security risk to our citizens. There is also a public health risk because they may have Covid-19.
There are a host of questions for Home Secretary Priti Patel and the government. Why, after an estimated £400million of taxpayers’ cash has been spent since 2010 supposedly preventing this kind of activity, is the Border Force now actively helping illegal immigrants to come here? Once, this might have been a resigning matter.
More than this, there is another angle to this story that warrants attention. The fact is that Farage has exposed this by himself on Twitter and Facebook. He does not have the insurance policy of a newspaper group standing behind him, even though this is the kind of public interest story any self-respecting newspaper would once have been proud to publish. He has risked his reputation; he has risked potential legal action from the French Navy or the Border Force, and presumably he funded this project himself.
For this reason, I believe Farage has exposed not only the appalling state of our borders, but also the death of our once-proud newspaper industry.
A paper such as the Sunday Times should have run this kind of investigation itself. Instead, on 3 May, a Sunday Times columnist called Sarah Baxter sneered at Farage in an opinion piece headlined ‘The old Nigel Farage immigrant song sounds way off key’.
Baxter wrote: ‘Nigel Farage is back. Who? What? The Brexit Party boss had been feeling sorely left out of the national conversation after Boris Johnson outflanked him at the last election, but he found a fresh way last week to raise fears about immigration during the national lockdown. Defying orders to stay at home except for basic necessities and exercise, he travelled 100 miles to Pett Level in East Sussex to film illegal immigrants storming the beaches. (It was for his LBC radio show, Farage blustered, claiming the fantasy status of key worker.) There, on a rain-sodden, wind-blown day, his arms rotating in indignation, he pointed to the deserted stretch of sand and small slipway next to an empty road that would appear to present the biggest threat of invasion to these isles since Boney assembled his forces at Boulogne in the 1800s. This was the “favoured beach” for migrants, Farage said, before turning to young hoodie-wearing Freddy for confirmation that the soaked youth had seen 29 of them landing in one boat. I don’t doubt Freddy’s story. More than 800 migrants have crossed the Channel since the start of the year, many encouraged by the balmy April weather. The home secretary, Priti Patel, is patrolling our shores, seeking to turn back boats at sea. If the French ever go along with it — and Labour’s David Blunkett tried the same approach long ago — it will be because they want to deter migrants from heading to the various ‘jungles’ near their coast. One day, she just might get an agreement.’
Well, Ms Baxter, who sounds way off key now?
At the time of writing (midday today) Farage’s video had been viewed more than 900,000 times on Twitter and separately watched on Facebook 1.5million times. So that’s about 2.5million views – approaching five times the readership of the Sunday Times.
Farage has done a public service in reporting on this scandal. It’s only May. Think how many more illegal immigrants will try to cross between now and October. Once, newspapers such as the Sunday Times or Daily Mail grasped that their readers cared about this kind of story. Now, they mock those like Farage who do their reporters’ work for them.