Small boat Channel crossings: Mayor of Calais says UK is too appealing to asylum seekers

Watch: Mayor of Calais says UK is too appealing to asylum seekers

The Mayor of Calais has told Sky News that her town is being used to do "the dirty work" of the British government by dealing with the waves of migrants who come to her town - and blamed the UK for being too appealing to asylum seekers from around the world.

Natacha Bouchart has been the town's mayor since 2008 and has seen the number of cross-Channel migrants go up and down.

However, over the past few years Calais has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of people trying to leave the local beaches and cross the Channel in small boats.

It means that her town has become home to a growing number of police officers, as well as coastguard and border patrol vessels.

It has also led to local people being involved in rescuing victims from the sea, while residents of nearby villages have had to live with transient refugee camps that are prey to sporadic outbreaks of violence.

The fundamental problem, she insists, is that it is too easy for migrants to adapt to life in the United Kingdom and slip into the so-called "black economy".

She believes, for instance, that the lack of identity cards allows migrants a freedom they would not enjoy in many European nations.

"Calais should not be the border that protects Britain's interests," she said. "There will be more and more agreements in the future, but if the root of the problem isn't dealt with then it won't change.

"To prevent the flow of migrants, Britain must become less welcoming. And it won't do that."

She said that the agreement signed between the UK and France may improve the situation but it would not address fundamental difficulties.

The mayor also said that, while she would be happy to share her experience with Home Secretary Suella Braverman, policy-makers "never come to talk to the Mayor of Calais, who is actually in charge here, day and night".

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Ms Bouchart confirmed that law enforcement officers have been told that they cannot enter the water as part of their job.

Sky News has filmed small boats, piloted by people smugglers, lurking just off the shore and waiting for migrants to wade out to them, while the police watch from shore.

She was also critical of Britain's failure to support her town, despite its place at the forefront of coping with migration.

"The British government has never, ever, ever given a single friendly gesture or co-operation on a project for the people of Calais. And that - well, I find that completely abnormal."

She says migration has damaged the image of her town, and castigated British charity groups who, she claims, "disturb public order".