Prime Minister David Cameron said the U.K. is doing all it can to prevent people from entering the country illegally and refused to apologize for using the word “swarm” to describe immigrants coming to Europe from North Africa.
“I don’t regret what I said,” Cameron said Saturday on BBC television. “I was simply trying to explain that a lot of people were coming from North Africa to Europe” and people “have understood that’s what I was saying.”
“Actions” are what matter, Cameron said. The government is “doing everything it can to stop people breaking into our country illegally and making sure we have all those proper border checks and inspections that people would expect.”
The escalation in illegal migrants seeking to break through barriers and board U.K.-bound trains and trucks using the Channel Tunnel has forced Britain to improve fencing and deploy more guards at its border. The problem is “less bad than it was but there is still more to do,” Cameron said.
The longer-term plan must be to “stabilize” the situation in countries in North Africa so people aren’t forced to leave their homes, the prime minister said on the 100th day of the first majority Conservative government since 1997.
“All the security measures in the world won’t solve the problem, which is that there are so many people coming from North Africa and elsewhere in search of a better life,” he said. “And we need to do more to stabilize those countries from which they’re coming.”
Asked about the use of identification cards as a response to illegal immigration, Cameron said they would be a “burden” to British citizens and that he’s not in favor.
Cameron, who became prime minister in 2010, also said he still plans to step down in 2020 after serving two terms.
“I said what I said and I meant it,” he said. “Ten years as prime minister is quite a long time.”