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Far-right groups protest immigration in Dover

AFP · 28 Sep 2014, 09:51

Published: 28 Sep 2014 09:51 GMT+02:00

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Draped in British and English flags, demonstrators objected to migrants who cross the English channel from the French port of Calais, where many fleeing instability in the Middle East and Africa have long gathered in makeshift camps.

Some protesters held up signs saying "Support our truckers, secure our borders", while others displayed the banners of the British far-right groups National Front and East Kent English Patriots.

Truck drivers who move freight over the crossing have demanded stricter border controls, saying that they are unfairly penalised if migrants stowaway on their vehicles.

The president of the British National Party (BNP) Nick Griffin, who attended the protest, said drivers had asked him to act to stop their trucks being "broken into by illegal immigrants".

"They are desperate to get into Britain and stop at nothing," Griffin said.

"The British government has got to get a grip on our borders and shut out these illegal immigrants."

Lorry driver Philip Hanley, 44, said he was protesting on behalf of truckers, but that he did not support the far-right groups who had attended the protest.

"A lot of drivers who pull their trucks through Calais... have to sleep with their doors locked. It's not on," Hanley said.

"The French government is doing nothing about it."

Britain this month struck a deal with France to try to control the number of migrants making the crossing, agreeing to put up barriers, improve controls and crack down on people smugglers.

Though one protest group had called for the port to be blockaded, police said there had been minimum disruption.

A British home office spokesman said that truckers could avoid penalties if they prove they have taken steps to secure their vehicles.

"It is for the French to maintain security of their port and to maintain public order on their own soil," the spokesman said.

"In the meantime, Border Force continues to work closely with the haulage industry."

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