Home Secretary sanctions tactics to turn back migrant boats in Channel – reports


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he Home Secretary has reportedly sanctioned new tactics to redirect migrant boats in the Channel back to France amid crunch talks over crossings.

According to reports, Priti Patel has ordered officials to rewrite maritime laws to allow Border Force to turn boats around, forcing them to be dealt with by French authorities.

It comes following a G7 interior minister’s meeting on Wednesday, during which Ms Patel told her French counterpart that the British public “expect to see results” from French efforts to prevent ongoing migrant crossings.

Several newspapers reported that members of Border Force are being given special training to handle migrant boats, but would only deploy the “pushback” tactics when deemed practical and safe to do so.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, aboard a Border Force vessel following a small boat incident in the Channel on Wednesday (PA) / PA Wire

Reports suggested such operations were likely to be restricted to sturdier, bigger migrant boats and only used in “very limited circumstances”.

Ms Patel and the French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, held discussions on crossings at Lancaster House in London, in the wake of hundreds of migrants being brought ashore in Kent over the past few days.

Government sources told the PA news agency the pair had a “constructive” meeting in which Ms Patel made clear tackling the number of people making their way from France to the UK on small boats was her “number one priority”.

But The Times reported that the French Government said the newly reported turnaround tactics would have “a negative impact on our co-operation”.

The paper also said Mr Darmanin had rejected a UK request to set up a joint command centre in northern France, with police and border force officers from both countries patrolling the coastline and the Channel.

It comes just days after Ms Patel is said to have told MPs she is prepared to withhold millions of pounds of cash promised to France to help step up patrols unless an improvement in the number of migrants intercepted by French authorities is seen.



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