Photo Credit: The Office of Mike Hookem MEP, caption: Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire MEP, Mike Hookem, stands next to the Royal Navy training ship, HMS Archer, while on a visit to Grimsby fishing docks.

 

Theresa May’s Tory government is sowing the seeds of chaos to leave the EU in name only! Her Government said it was considering retiring two military landing ships; BAE Systems announced it was laying off thousands of workers in vital defence manufacturing roles, and a former Border Force chief claimed the service could be thrown into chaos without considerable recruitment.

It looks very much to me like this disastrous Tory government is purposely running down the UK’s ability to defend itself by undermining defence manufacturing, reducing military capability, and slashing armed forces personnel. These cuts, mixed with a Chancellor who is unwilling to prepare for a “no-deal “scenario, and the utter chaos the Tories have created in UK Border Force, spell a recipe for disaster.

In my opinion, Theresa May is using smoke and mirrors to deflect from the fact that she intends to leave the EU in name only. While she talks tough on leaving the EU, everything her government does signals the opposite.

You only have to look at Mrs May’s deeply flawed Great Repeal Bill and her ridiculous speech in Florence to see that she is nothing more than an EU appeaser! And as Mrs May’s premiership lurches from one disaster to another, we can now see a pattern emerging of cuts that further weakens the UK’s vital industries and services, which, in turn, could undermine our ability to defend our interests and borders post-Brexit.

It was obvious two years ago when I was in the Calais Jungle that Border Force was so cash-starved, it was no longer able to cope; and if anything, the situation has deteriorated since then. As for the continuing deep cuts to our military capability, I believe that this is nothing more than an attempt to weaken our armed forces to the point where we have no other choice than to join the quickly developing EU army.

The simple fact is, if the UK is to make a success of whatever form of Brexit we eventually achieve, we must have the ability to defend our borders; manufacture defence equipment, and have a strong, independent armed forces. Without these capabilities, I’m afraid we will be forever more subservient to the EU.

Even worse is her Government’s decision to use the “scant resources” of Border Force to police EU environmental law on a Kent sandbank. The priority of Border Force on the South-East Coast should be protecting Britain from illegal migration and criminal activity; not persecuting fishermen for potential breaches of EU environmental law!

The revelations that Border Force will be used to ‘ensure full compliance’ with the 1992 EU ‘Habitats Directive’ on a small sandbank near Margate came to light in a recent document published by the fishing enforcement agency, the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

The MMO document says that the estimated annual enforcement costs to protect the sandbank range from £17,375 – £18,375. However, under the heading, “Other key non-monetised costs” the document states:

“The MMO proposes to use other enforcement bodies such as UK Border Agency and the police to fully utilise their resources for surveillance and enforcement. These costs cannot be monetised at present as they are requested on an ad hoc basis, and costs can vary.”

I think the MMO’s decision to heap further pressure on Border Forces in an area already under great pressure from the ongoing European migrant crisis is a flagrant waste of scant resources.

The UK Border Agency has recently seen budget cuts totalling £100 million. However, it would seem Government mandarins feel it is more important to uphold EU legislation than protect our coastline from illegal immigration and criminal activity.

This move by the MMO to use Border Force as its police force seems to follow a worrying pattern. From speaking to members of fishing communities up and down the country, it seems that Border Agency vessels are being used more and more to police the fishing industry, with boardings to check catches becoming a regular occurrence.

Having spent five weeks examining the migrant crisis in Northern France, I understand the threat this country currently faces from illegal migration. Border Force does not need the distraction of having to police fisheries and enforce barmy EU rules.

My outrage at the MMO’s move to use Border Force assets to police UK fisheries was echoed by Essex fishing skipper, Ray Lovett, who often operates in the Margate area. Mr Lovett, a fisherman with many years’ experience and the owner/skipper of the Anna Louise, HH56, based in Harwich, Essex, said:

“as a full-time fisherman with many years’ experience, I have been subjected to this wasteful use of our protection services before. I do not understand how priority can be given to harassing law-abiding inshore fishermen with Border Agency craft; while at the same time illegal immigrants are being boated ashore on the beaches of South East England. What if these were terrorists?”

The public must be made aware that our political masters – people who are supposed to serve us, the Great British public – put more emphasis on trying to catch out fishermen than they do to protect our shores from criminal activity and illegal immigration.

This madness must be highlighted and stopped!

 

 

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