For a Frog it’s always our fault, eh?

Instead, the centre-Right candidate chose to lash out at an entirely different enemy: Britain. “C’est la faute aux Anglais,” (It’s all England’s fault),” he declared in the run up to Sunday’s vote, as if that would seal the argument.

“The main reason we have so many problems is because of the English. Either they change their rules, or we hand them back their border,” he boomed.

Hmm, given that we’ve not joined Schengen we never handed over the border so that it could be handed back, did we?

33 thoughts on “For a Frog it’s always our fault, eh?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    “C’est la faute aux Anglais,”

    To be honest I am not merely incredibly comfortable about this, I would be positively concerned if the French were not citing the Protocols of the Elders of Albion.

    If the French hate whatever we are doing in the EU then Cameron may be doing something right. As that is unlikely, it must follow that he is striking an empty pose. Sort of like Cameron’s EU “claw back” in reverse. He must think his voters are as stupid as ours.

  2. Sorry, but I agree with the Froggy. I’ve lived in this part of France. Their problem is the UK frontiers are at Calais, Dunkerque & Sangatte. They’ve the job of policing them. It’s a heroic task. I’ve been repeated stopped & checked 40km’s back from the coast.
    But there’s no back-up whatsoever on the British side. Bump off the ferry & you go straight onto the Dover road. Get across that narrow stretch of water & you’re home, free.
    It might have been an efficient, cost effective way to run a port system, in the absence of an immigrant problem. For the Brits. It isn’t for the French, now.. It’s a ruinously expensive nightmare.

  3. Quite so. As matters stand, the French are doubly shafted: Schengen means that they can’t control who enters their country from elsewhere and the bilateral UK/French border deal means that the migrant pressures on the UK from France are on French territory rather than UK ports.

    Tant pis pour eux!

  4. It’s not really Schengen, TMB. Schengen’s an admission of reality. It’s geography. The Franco-Belgian frontier at Armentières’ the traffic lights at the end of Le Bizet (B) High Street. In the crossing street, you’ve a choice of which country you park in.

  5. Let’s not forget that the French border is on the UK end of the Tunnel for those travelling to France. If the French were dumb enough to sign up to Schengen when it was well known how porous its southern borders could be, the problem is largely (but not exclusively) one for them to deal with.

  6. If the French are really keen on bombing Syrians, why not start with Sangatte? True, many people there aren’t Syrians, but many of the “Syrian refugees” aren’t Syrian either.

    Quite why the poor bloody Syrians deserve to be bombed by every country run by posturing prats, I’m not sure: they seem to have problems enough already.

  7. BiS

    I agree and it’s an interesting one. With a traditional land based border control (two manned points and a minimal “no man’s land”), the destination border point can say no, and the individual is then instantly back in the country of origin.

    That’s a tad more difficult with 20 miles of water! Hence, one can argue that the existing arrangement (UK border at Calais, and vice versa) best approximates the case if it was a (properly fenced) land border?

    Surely, the rational answer has to be that the UK agrees to contribute significantly to the cost (and benefit) of having the UK border at Calais (and which is trivial in the greater scheme of things), ie the same as it would have to do if they wanted to put lots of fencing up for a land border?

  8. “Surely, the rational answer has to be that the UK agrees to contribute significantly to the cost (and benefit) of having the UK border at Calais”

    Aren’t we already doing this?

  9. Simply no, PF. The UK do already contribute to the cost of the border.
    The problem’s the Brit side. . Dover’s a medieval harbour at the end of town. Bump off the ferries & you’re straight onto the Dover road. No checks at all Any would-be’s getting that side are home free.
    It’s insane. In France, the potentials are outside, trying to penetrate several kilometers of fences. And the problem’s diffused across the entire PdeC/Nord/ Picardie region The French can’t detain them because, until they get on the boat, they haven’t broken any French laws. UK-side, the choke point’s a ten meter wide ramp off the ferry. The simple answer’s to control egress from the arrival point. Identify & detain illegals whilst their concentrated. What it really needs is a proper, built for purpose, modern ferry port.* Like the French have with Calais & Dunkerque. Up the coast somewhere towards Ramsgate. Brits won’t spend the money. If there’s no chance of landing without being captured they won’t be trying.

    *And an end to having to use the 20 as a lorry park every time there’s a storm in the Channel

  10. PF – The UK does contribute a small amount – I think the last dollop was £3m for fencing a few months ago.

    But the problem extends well beyond the perimeter fence, as BiS said, and extends well into the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Computing the cost of policing throughout the region insofar as it is specific to migrants would be hard but the amount would surely be significant.

    Between the two extremes of joining Schengen and invoking the Treaty of Troyes, it’s hard to know what England should do for the best.

  11. Rob

    I don’t just mean the direct cost of managing the UK check points / similar at Calais, which obviously we would / should pay for.

    I mean also contributing to the local regional cost of managing the fall out / camps etc, ie the cost that the UK would clearly incur if the UK check points were moved on to British soil, and for which there is clearly a huge benefit to the UK by not having those check points on British soil.

    I think we do now contribute a small amount to that; I don’t have any numbers and hence I could be wrong, but I suspect it doesn’t significantly help the coastal area of Nord–Pas-de-Calais deal with the real cost?

    And of course, if we did contribute significantly, we might then want some say in how they dealt with it, ie how they efficiently spent that money (yes, it gets complicated!).

  12. BiS – an excellent example of what you’re talking about are the Belgian enclaves within the Netherlands some of which have Netherlands enclaves within them.

    Ultimately, though, geography plays second fiddle to politics and the soviets had no compunction about sticking a wall and a machinegun tower at the end of your street. In such circumstances the question of parking gives way to the certainty of being shot.

    It’s obviously less extreme to create, as PF says, a no-man’s-land on your side of the border if you want to control who comes into your territory.

  13. BiS

    “The simple answer’s to control egress from the arrival point.”

    And then what – eject them “instantly” (and forcibly) straight back to Calais?

    We are not going to process them? Surely one should be able to say “no” at your check point and that’s that?


    Wider NPdC area and all that – I agree completely. And partially contributing something (significant) to that cost should be to Britain’s benefit?

  14. As bloke in spain points out, Schengen is simply a recognition of the reality of land borders; and the UK + Eire’s lack of them is the reason we haven’t joined in the zone. The fact that we’re an island means that we don’t tend to think about the consequences of having land borders, and conversely continentals tend not to understand their impact until it’s explained to them. The main differences are:

    (a) Land borders are porous. Even at the height of the Troubles, when half the (then much larger) British Army was stationed in Northern Ireland, we couldn’t get anywhere near to closing the relatively short land border with Eire. Unless you’re prepared to build a Berlin wall, complete with minefields and armed guards ready to shoot anyone who gets within 50m, you can never have complete control over who and what can cross.

    (b) Land borders are fluid. Alsace and Lorraine changed hands 4 times in 3 generations, and few European land borders are more than 200 years old.

  15. BiS

    You say that once they arrive at Dover there are no checks.

    But that’s no different in the other direction, coming off ferries etc at Calais? And that’s the point – the checks are at the check point, which is in France if you are heading into the UK.

    I don’t disagree on the value of having proper facilities (and not using the M20 and all that), but that doesn’t change the principle of where the check points are?

    The problem in the NPdC is a consequence of being in Schengen (#), otherwise they wouldn’t be in France in the first place, That’s not our problem, it’s a French problem.

    But it would be a UK problem if our UK / French check points were on UK soil. Hence, there is a benefit to us to help the French financially with their “Schengen / NPdC migration” problem, to avoid the temptation of that problem being imported / passed over to Dover?

    # but yes, acknowledge Chris Miller’s point on porous land borders etc.

  16. “And then what – eject them “instantly” (and forcibly) straight back to Calais? ”

    I’d suggest a secure camp on Romney Marsh with only two exits. One’s back where you came from. Other’s at the end of a very strict & exhaustive investigative procedure could take….years. Sure a fine mature bureaucracy like our own could come up with one.
    It’s markets. If there’s no benefiting, you don’t do it.
    And revisiting my earlier comment, I’m not sure if it’s really money prevents the UK having a proper ferry port on the Channel. More the enthrallment to the Dover Port Authority & all that’s good for it. A new port would be a worthwhile commercial enterprise. Has been with Loon Plage

  17. A different angle.

    We’re talking often here about the migrant camp areas / other problems before any border controls?

    What’s to stop a lot of these migrants buying a (foot) ferry ticket and going through the border controls. Well obviously, they would get stopped. If the French (outgoing) control didn’t stop them, then 20 yards on, the UK control would check their passport and simply say no and back they go.

    Hence, if the “France to UK” border controls changed, and were now on French / UK soil respectively, then instead of 20 yards, we are talking 20 miles (between the check points), and hence back on to the boat and across the Channel back to France after being rejected at the UK check point, forcibly if necessary.

    The French would probably find it easier to stop them at their border control on the way out. If the French didn’t choose to stop them leaving, then in reality all that would happen is the boats themselves would (commercially) implement some form of pre UK check (before boarding) to stop them getting on the boat (simply to avoid the financial loss of having to take x% of every journey back again). Ie, no significant difference to now.

    And none of that would change the migration situation that currently exists in NPdC.


    Romney Marsh / Dover Port Authority

    I don’t disagree! Although, I’m still wondering why we can’t just say no. But if we do have to process some (that make it past the check points?), your Romney Marsh proposal is as good as any. The South Atlantic might also have some merit – it works for the Aussies…

  18. Apols – too many posts!

    “It’s markets. If there’s no benefiting, you don’t do it.”

    That’s the answer.

    We simply have to make it not worth their while. And that would obviously help the French in NPdC too.

  19. The most porous border in the EU is Greece’s vast coast line, closely followed by southern Italy’s coast. Neither are land borders. If Schengen consisted (say) of Germany, the Low Countries and France, I doubt there would a migrant problem around Calais. France has stupidly entered into a flawed Schengen agreement, and it’s paying the price.

  20. Greece / Italy

    Theo, that’s not because they are sea borders, it because a) it’s Greece and Italy, and b) it’s EU / non EU.

    Or to put it a different way, if Austria was “Libya today” and Poland was Turkey, and Germany was Greece / Italy, then the from the Oder to the Alps would would be no less porous a border…

    “France has stupidly entered into” – agreed!

  21. PF
    Yes, I’d largely agree with that. Not sure about your Oder-Alps point, though: there too many variables.

  22. “What’s to stop a lot of these migrants buying a (foot) ferry ticket and going through the border controls.”

    If you’d ever crossed the Channel as a foot passenger, you’d know why. The security’s tighter than for a vehicle crossing. You’re not sitting in a car when they check passports, for a start. The metal detector for the luggage.
    And don’t forget. This is the UK border, you’re crossing. Not the French.
    And the security going Francewards is tight. Every time I go out through Dover I get pulled over for a check. Get out the car. Go through their bloody metal detector. Get back in. Not saying they ever check the car. Pure security theater.
    But why your obsession with rubber stamp border control? The illegals don’t go through passport control. They cross hanging on the underneath of a truck. Or in the load area. Or, I suspect, into a vehicle in the boarding queue. After passport control. I’m pretty sure I could manage to slip someone across, that way. Once they’re on the boat they’re you’re just another passenger. And there’s no stops at Dover.

  23. BiS

    If you’d ever crossed the Channel as a foot passenger, you’d know why

    Yes sure, it was rhetorical, as I thought my next comment made clear (ie, “Well obviously, they would get stopped “).

    And I haven’t got an obsession with rubber stamping border control – anything but..!?

    To me, it simply doesn’t matter where the control is physically located, as long as it is effective and we can instantly send people back from that point if they don’t have the right visa / passport etc.

    Re all the hanging on bits, sure they can hang on going through a check point whether it’s Dover or Calais. The control points need to be effective. And we need to make sure that, if they are caught, they are immediately returned to the country they just tried to enter from. I’d agree with your point if you were suggesting that there were strong check points on “both” sides, as that would make it harder, but simply to add them at Dover and (hence) remove them from Calais I’m not sure achieves anything?

    I think your point on incentives was the obvious answer for me. Ie, just make it completely not worthwhile for them. And if not Romney Marsh, perhaps we could create a new base / application centre down on Gough Island. The French would also thank us heartily for that as Calais suddenly became a far less attractive intra Schengen destination…

    Every time I go out through Dover I get pulled over for a check. Get out the car.

    Hmmm, the dogs must like the smell of something – it rarely happens to me…:)

  24. “Hmmm, the dogs must like the smell of something – it rarely happens to me…:)”

    Oh i know why. I usually travel in the wee hours. I’m white, middle aged & traveling solo. They need to tick boxed on cars stopped. Would you pull over a Turkish family with small children?

    When I talk about “control” I mean when you’re in a position to control the situation. Which is what they don’t have in France.

  25. Mulling this lot over, I’m starting to come to the conclusion the French are rather keen you don’t get inundated with foreign trash whilst the UK authorities only wish to be seen to be going through the motions. I can’t imagine why I should think that.

  26. Yeah, I’m with the BiS et al on this. The French are paying the price not so much for Schengen, but the fact that Britain is the destination of choice for migrants and they happen to own the patch of land closest to Britain. The French are quite correct in being annoyed at the Brits for not doing more to dissuade migrants from flocking to the UK. Certainly, some aspects are beyond Britain’s control (such as their speaking English) but others – such as the free-for-all NHS – is well within their control, but choose to do nothing about it. The French are paying the price for this.

  27. What I can’t understand is why the migrants are so intent on getting to the UK via breaking into the channel tunnel. Surely it would be much easier to buy/hire/steal a boat and sail across the channel? Perhaps the journey this way across The Med was too distressing to repeat the process for some, but others would surely see it as they’ve done it once so can do it again? Yet I’ve not seen any news reports of boats being stolen or migrants arriving on fishing vessels etc.

  28. sail across the channel?

    It is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world: apart from the hazard of being run over by something I am sure there is a lot of very detail scrutiny of radar etc going on.

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