Bleak hour or so not far from Calais. Scores and scores of people having to walk up and down the roadside after their camp was broken up by police. They say officers confiscated their sleeping bags and equipment. It’s cold, miserable- saw a couple of kids crying in the street. ImageImageImage
Now they’ll have to go and buy new sleeping bags, new equipment (if they can afford it). And they’ll simply have to settle somewhere else until they try and make their crossing and/or are moved on again.
Spoke to a group from Afghanistan- said they’d fled the country after the fall of the government. Took them several months (and thousands of pounds to smugglers) to reach northern France. Many others from Kurdistan and Iraq. Lots of families here.
I asked them why don’t apply for asylum in France. A few reasons given- either: a) no French but do speak English b) historic ties to the UK c) family in UK d) a belief that France would not treat them humanely, a belief they think vindicated by their experiences here.
And now, as night follows day, the camp reforms elsewhere. Aid providers arrive with clothes, food, new sleeping bags and power to charge phones. At some point, the police will do the same here and the process will start again. ImageImageImageImage
One man we just spoke to has tried to cross the Channel four times already, without success. He says he’ll be trying again tonight.

One man from Kurdistan said he fled the government after they tried to kill him and had paid $10,000 to a trafficker to get him to the UK.
Many have returned from where they were removed earlier. Nowhere else to go, will wait for police to go and set up camp again. It’s an endless cycle. ImageImage
Three people are sleeping in this tiny tent tonight- camp is full of equivalents. No toilet or washing facilitates available save the woods. This isn’t some distant frontier, it’s our own. Image
Spoke to a 20 year old Iranian. Says his father has been arrested in Iran, his Mother is dead, aside from that he’s alone. He says he had to leave Iran otherwise he’d have ended up in prison too- wants to come to UK rather than France as the last family he has are in England.
More of this later in the week on Newsnight.
English Channel. Several boats have left France this morning. I cannot emphasise enough just how dark it is, how cold. In a tiny, rickety, overcrowded boat, hard to imagine how frightening it must be. Image
Reminder of one of many reasons it’s so dangerous- at night, in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, ships can’t see them. Those ships only have to get close and will generate such a wave there’s a good chance the small boat will capsize.
Right now visibility is a mile at most
We understand that 25 boats tried to make the crossing today so far (total number likely to be higher). Also told a short time ago French coast guard issued a mayday for 15 people who have been tipped into the water. One aid agency told us risk is the Channel becomes a graveyard.
Tragically it seems the Channel graveyard is already here. AFP reporting at least five believed to have died in the Channel.
The news keeps getting worse- we’re seeing a human tragedy unfold on our own frontier. French Police now saying more than 20 have died in the Channel.

Everyone we spoke to yesterday said they knew the risks but felt there was no alternative.
Scary thing is I’ve just been told people were still trying to cross as of an hour ago. Terrible weather expected in coming days- lots of people know this is their last chance for a while. So many boats in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world- and it’s dark again.
Just been on PM and about to be on 5live to discuss this tragedy. Tune in for the latest.
Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart has said the death toll now stood is 27. Another local Mayor has said 24.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex calls the shipwreck "a tragedy." Says: "My thoughts are with the many missing and injured, victims of criminal smugglers who exploit their distress and misery." Says he's following the situation.
But big questions for both the French and British governments tonight. For the French in how these people are being treated in France. For Britain in the lack of safe routes for at least some of these people to claim asylum.
Head of Port of Calais saying at least 30 have died.
Once again seeing lots of "why don't they stay in France?" on my timeline. It's a fair question but here is the answer.
And also worth pointing out lots *do* stay in France. German and French asylum applications (and many others in EU too) far outstrip the UK’s. ImageImage
Notable that many in the camps come from countries-Iraq, Kurdistan, Afghanistan- with either historic or recent connections to the UK. Those with French connections (eg West Africa) tend to stay in France. It’s about esteem (many hold UK in high regard), language and family.
French MP Pierre-Henri Dumont tells Sky: "The Channel right now is becoming the new Mediterranean Sea, it's like an open graveyard."

The language of the graveyard has come up again and again while reporting this story this last week. It was completely predictable and predicted.
About to discuss all this with @BBCRosAtkins on BBC News Channel. Do tune in.
Yesterday I reported how many children were at the "camps" near Dunkirk and Calais, living in the woods and streets. Reuters are now reporting that one little girl is among the 31 who have died.
You can watch report from me, @caithanrahan and Jamie Bowles on our Newsnight special tonight. Join us- BBC2, 2230.
I spent the day wondering whether some of the people we met on the French roadsides yesterday died in the sea overnight. We all ought to have a better idea about the tragedy unfolding on our border. Watch this piece from me, @caithanrahan and Jamie Bowles.
Lots of shock expressed by politicians on both sides of the Channel overnight. But this was predictable and predicted. And in a global refugee crisis of some 80 million it is unsurprising that at least some of that number would be at our border. Some thoughts in the clip below.
This doesn’t surprise me. There are lots of Afghans in the “camps” and aid workers told me that the numbers had increased considerably since the fall of the last government. Likewise, as I’ve said above, most of those there are from countries with strong links to the UK.
Again, sadly this isn’t surprising. One of the biggest groups in the camps are Kurds. Several told me how they’d found each other en route and intended to try and make the crossing together.
Vigil tonight for the dead in central Calais. People holding signs aloft saying “No human is illegal”, “Borders Kill” and “Racist lawmakers.” Image
At the centre of the vigil in Calais is a banner. On it are written the names of the hundreds of people who have died on the UK/France border since 1999. You’ll note some are marked with an X- their names remain unknown. ImageImage
Now a march is proceeding through the town. People are holding roses for the dead.
One by one the mourners in Calais are throwing roses into the sea, in memory of those who have died. Some are crying as they do so. A series of prayers are held as they do it. Image
The very cold, very windy beach of Plage des Escardines, near Grand-Fort-Phillipe. One of the main launching points for the boast- can be completely hellish at night at this time of year.
The camp near Grand Synthe has got so much bigger, even since it formed after the dispersal on Tuesday. When we were here it was a few tents, scores of people. Now it’s over 300, permanent structures being thrown up, tents everywhere following the old train track. ImageImageImage
Feeling and hope here is the French police leave them alone for a while, given what happened on Wednesday. If so camp is likely to grow and grow. People are still arriving.
Growth likely to accelerate too given people here tell me the smugglers have largely gone to ground for a while after the arrests. Crossings likely to therefore reduce (weather also a factor) for at least a few days.
Everyone still determined to try and make it. As one person said to me compared to some of the crossings they’ve already made, the dangers of escape from their own country, travel through Turkey, the Aegean or elsewhere, the Channel seems small.
At the camp I was pleased to see a 20 year old Kurd I met on Tuesday, safe and well. He still intends to try and cross. I asked him if there were a legal route he could use to apply for UK asylum in France whether he’d use that instead: “Of course. Everyone here would.”
A grim reality of life here is that some people still don’t even know if their friends or relatives were among those who made it or died on Wednesday. People are so used to people disappearing for days a time, people losing phone battery. People constantly live in the unknown.
Another grim reality is how the gangs lie to these people. One man told me of how the gang members tell them the boats will be safe, they won’t capsize and even if they do the coastguard will always be there to pick them up.
One thing which you find in the camp which you might not expect- hope. The camps don’t feel sad. People are smiley, kind, generous- they’ll give you their last cup of tea, even though they have very little. A common refrain is “I’ll be in the UK tomorrow!” It’s a mantra, a motto.
Something to keep them going. It helps explain why they keep making the crossing. They feel they’ve already beaten the odds to get so far, indeed that providence is with them. Whenever you ask about the risk often they say “it’s in the hands of God.”
You can watch our latest piece from Grande-Synthe, from me, @caithanrahan and Jamie Bowles on Newsnight shortly. Tune in right now.

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More from @lewis_goodall

26 Nov
NEW: President Macron responds to @BorisJohnson: “The only answer is a serious cooperation...I am surprised by the methods when they're not serious. We don't communicate from one leader to another on these subjects like this via tweets or by making letters public.”
At the end Macron says French Interior Minister will meet with his EU counterparts and the Commission on Sunday. Then says they’ll work with the British “when they decide to be serious about it.”
This now has become a major diplomatic row and rift. There’ll be endless (Brexit infused) argument about who is responsible but net result is that when the weather clears the people in the camps are just as much at risk as before and it all happens again. A disaster, all round.
Read 4 tweets
25 Nov
On those who died yday Jean Marc Puissesseau, Head of Port of Calais tells @BBCr4today: “These people have to face many obstacles before they arrive in Calais. They love England, they want to go to your country...it’s not just a problem of Europe its also a problem of the UK.”
“They have been suffering in their countries and for them their future and highest hope is to get to the UK.”

Worth noting they are also suffering in France, as our report yesterday documented.
On question of greater French urgency Calais port head says: “we are obliged in Calais port to control each lorry to know that there’s not migrants inside. We do it for no penny. It’s gratis for your country. It costs us €8 million a year...”
Read 17 tweets
24 Nov
Thoughts on reaction to this so far (on both sides of the Channel)

Lots of talk of shock and horror tonight but this was predicted and predictable. Just last week an aid agency told me concern was without change the Channel could become a graveyard- it happened.
Both British and French politicians have talked about clamping down on the people smugglers. No-one would disagree with that, they’re a menace with indifference to human life. But the constant talk of pull factors doesn’t account for the really (more) important push factors.
We can’t know for sure how many in the camps are refugees but we know it’s many, some believe most. Many I spoke to yesterday talked of persecution in their home countries, imprisonment or worse. They feel they have nothing to lose. In those circumstances by definition you’re...
Read 7 tweets
19 Nov
There's been a lot of focus these last few weeks on MPs' second jobs. Tonight I have a special report on Newsnight on another part of the standards system which has received less attention but which some believe really needs reform: corporate hospitality for MPs.
We've used gambling as our example. By our calculations since May alone gambling and betting companies have spent nearly £100,000 on corporate hospitality for just 28 MPs- this is all within the current rules. This includes tickets to Ascot, Wimbledon, the Euros and more besides.
Make sure you're watching on Newsnight- report from me, @RhodaBuchanan, @jackcevans and @Sean__Clare. BBC2, 2230.
Read 5 tweets
17 Nov
Focus today was on Parliament. But as was just explaining on Newsnight just as important were the government’s announcements on the social care plan which were quietly unveiled as the PM was at the liaison committee....
There were two bits to the PM’s announcement back in September 1) a cap of £86k on lifetime care costs (though not complete as doesn’t include bed and board for care homes) and 2) the means test which helps households with less than £100k in assets pay for weekly costs.
What the government announced today was that those two things won’t intersect. Ie that the means test payments will not count towards reaching the £86k cap- only payments an individual makes themselves will.
Read 15 tweets
17 Nov
Mr Speaker chastises the Prime Minister for the second time for trying to ask Starmer questions: "Prime Minister, I've made it very clear it's PMQs, not for the Opposition to answer your Qs- those are the rules of the game we're all in to, and we play by the rules don't we?"
"And we respect this House, so let's respect this House."
Prime Minister attempts to ask Starmer a third question about payments he received for legal advice when an MP.

Speaker forces the PM to retake his seat: "Prime Minister- SIT DOWN. I'm not going to be challenged, you may be the Prime Minister but in this House, I'm in charge."
Read 5 tweets

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