mbassadors and high commissioners have been instructed to do “even more” to help tackle the “abhorrent trafficking” of human lives across the English Channel, the Foreign Secretary has said.
James Cleverly told party members at the Tory conference in Manchester he personally wrote to senior diplomats and instructed “each and every one of them” to step up to the plate to stop people smuggling.
It comes as nine boats have been intercepted carrying a total of 537 migrants crossing the English Channel on Saturday, according to the latest Home Office figures.
The crossings bring the total for the year to 24,830, which is down on last year’s figures which by this time in 2022 had reached 33,001.
But the numbers are still up on 2021, when 17,085 had made the dangerous crossing by September 30, and it was 7,000 by the same point in 2020.
Speaking from the main stage of the Manchester Central Convention Complex, the Foreign Secretary said when it comes to stopping the boats, ministers will have to continue to co-operate “not just across Government, but with our international allies as well”.
Today , I’ve written to all of our ambassadors, all of our high commissioners, and I’ve instructed each and every one of them to do even more work with the countries in which they represent the UK to help stop the abhorrent trafficking of human lives across the English Channel
He went on: “We have collaborated closely with the governments of the countries where these inhumane people-smuggling gangs are based.
“But I recognise that we need to keep going and so, today, I’ve written to all of our ambassadors, all of our high commissioners, and I’ve instructed each and every one of them to do even more work with the countries in which they represent the UK to help stop the abhorrent trafficking of human lives across the English Channel.”
As part of his keynote speech, Mr Cleverly also announced plans to “carve out space in our diplomatic service” for veterans.
He said: “I believe that those who have served our nation on the battlefield can continue to contribute beyond their tours of duty, which is why I have tasked my officials to carve out space in our diplomatic service for that and I look forward to working with Johnny Mercer, our veterans minister, to ensure that the men and women from our armed forces, who we know are amongst the best of us, to give them the opportunity to be the best at representing the UK.
“You will forgive me, but it does make me immensely proud of those who have served our country with unparalleled distinction the opportunity to serve their nation once again.”