Plan to turn back migrants in the Channel has been AXED because it can only work in ‘limited circumstances’, immigration minister says
- Jenrick said analysis showed only ‘limited circumstances’ in which turnaround idea could be deployed against dinghies
- Immigration minister said ‘no current plans’ to reinstate proposals
- Minister’s comments appeared to draw a final line under pushback measures
Plans to use ‘pushback’ tactics against small boats in the Channel have been ditched by the Home Office, the immigration minister confirmed yesterday.
Robert Jenrick said analysis showed there were only ‘limited circumstances’ in which the turnaround idea could be deployed against dinghies.
He said the proposals were ‘currently withdrawn’ and there were ‘no current plans’ to bring them into operation.
Another 426 migrants crossed the Channel on Monday – the most in a fortnight. It brings the total since the start of the year to 42,588, compared with 28,526 in all of 2021.
Pictured: Robert Jenrick arrives at 10 Downing Street for a cabinet meeting on November 29. The minister’s comments appeared to draw a final line under the pushback measures
A further unconfirmed number arrived yesterday despite poor visibility in the busy shipping lane.
The minister’s comments appeared to draw a final line under the pushback measures, which the French government insists break international maritime law.
It would have seen migrant dinghies intercepted in the Channel and sent back to France. Alternatively, passengers would have been transferred to UK Border Force vessels and delivered to a French port.
Former home secretary Priti Patel conceded in April – as the Ministry of Defence took control of UK operations in the Channel – that turnaround tactics had been put to one side. But she insisted they would remain under review.
Mr Jenrick said in a parliamentary written answer: ‘There are limited circumstances in which small boats can be turned around safely in the English Channel.
‘In view of this, the policy is currently withdrawn and there are no current plans for the turnaround tactics to be reintroduced under defence primacy.’
Parliament passed legislation earlier this year introducing powers allowing small boats to be turned back. The Home Office even spent tens of thousands of pounds on specialist maritime gear to enforce the policy. UK Border Force purchased gear last year to tangle the propellers of boats in the Channel.
Other purchases included a life raft that cocoons small boats while occupants are removed.