Brexit icon and former Reform UK leader Nigel Farage has clashed with Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont on his popular new GB News programme, confronting the French politician over inaction on illegal boat crossings despite huge pay-outs from the UK taxpayer.
Arguing about the capacity of the Gendarmerie to stop the crossings, Farage blasted French state inaction: “I spoke a couple of hours ago to a professional international seafarer, who two mornings ago, in daylight, saw just to the west of Calais a migrant boat that was no more than fifty meters from the shore laden with its illegal human cargo, and a Gendarmerie RIB that came up to that boat made no attempt to stop it or turn it around – when frankly they were in no more than a meter of water and they could have paddled back to shore.
“The Gendarmerie made no attempt whatsoever to do that, once they were fifty meters out, and indeed the boat carried on, got to the main shipping channel that goes into Calais port, at which one of your French naval vessels shadowed the dinghy all the way across until it got into British waters, and then of course it was our problem.”
The pair continued to row about the effort being put forth by the Gendarmerie to stop the boats, and the motivations of illegal economic migrants coming to Britain from France.
“Clearly your navy actually is going to continue, say ‘thank you very much for the £54m’, is going to continue to escort vessels into British waters. What if we just tow the boats back to Calais – how would you feel about that?” he asked.
Dumont, however, did clarify that he was against the British taxpayer bung, saying that he was not comfortable with the French navy being a “client” of Britain.
Responding to suggestions that Britain needs to take a share of European asylum seekers, Farage said: “Sorry, we are Brexit Britain. We do not want to pay for your mistakes, do we? You’ve made some terrible mistakes and you’re now saying we should share the burden of your mistakes – and we don’t want to do that!”
The encounter has been well received online, with one viewer saying “you’ll never see a debate like this on the BBC” while another opined: “Nice to see a man with a spine and with facts back as a presenter.”
The populist legend joined GB News officially last week after making several appearances as a guest, with many suspecting that the bold and popular hire may be effective in stemming the tide of viewer anger after host Guto Harri took the knee on air.