Eastbourne and Willingdon MP Caroline Ansell has raised constituents’ concerns with Boris Johnson about illegal boatloads of people coming across the English Channel from France.

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions, Caroline said the issue was of ‘great concern’ to many people in the town.

“When I was in Greece with Save the Children, I learned that change at any border was quickly communicated down the line,” she told the House of Commons.

“If migrants and asylum seekers knew that they would be directly returned to France or taken to a third country pending application, would they risk a dangerous and illegal crossing and make their way to France in the first place? 

“I ask my right honourable friend: what further measures are being considered?

“This is an issue of great concern in Eastbourne, along the coast and across the country, and I am anxious to be able to reassure my constituents that there are plans ahead.”

In reply Mr Johnson said: “I thank my honourable friend very much, and she has much relevant experience from her work for Save the Children in Greece.

“Our only credible way of fixing this is with our new plan for immigration. That will be made possible with our new Nationality and Borders Bill, which will make it possible for us to distinguish at last between those who come here legally and those who come here illegally.

“I hope very much that it will command the support of the whole House.”

Speaking afterwards, Caroline said: “Many people are contacting me or even speaking to me in the street to discuss this issue. 

“The vast majority are incredibly concerned that people are making this dangerous journey and putting themselves at risk in this way but there is also recognition that those most in need of our support and protection are not necessarily those who can pay traffickers or have the physical strength to journey across the continent.

“My view is this new legislation cannot come soon enough. We must break the business model of the unscrupulous people smugglers who are making millions out of this vile trade.

“Lives are lost in this way.  I still remember the devastating picture of three year old Alan Kurdi who drowned in the Mediterranean and whose tiny frame washed up, face down on a beach. It was heartbreaking. 

“I am also concerned for those who are not intercepted and get to the English coast and find themselves sold into modern slavery. 

“The UK has been a haven for many refugees over history. Just earlier this year we committed to welcoming many thousands of Afghans in danger in their country. 

“But the present immigration and asylum rules are broken and they need radical reform. We will  continue to welcome people from across the world to contribute to our economy and society but there will necessarily be limits.   

“For those who are hiding their true intentions or identity or pose a risk, there needs to be a more robust system of return.”