Yet ANOTHER Priti Patel pledge on crossings: Home Secretary threatens to turn migrants away from the UK and send them back to France
- Only 155 migrants who landed in Britain since January 2019 have been returned
- Migrants are currently escorted to British ports if they reach UK waters
- Home Secretary Priti Patel wants to fund more patrols along the French coast
- Mrs Patel has been in discussion with her French counterpart over migrants
A new plan to combat the Channel migrant crisis which would see more boats turned back to France has been put forward by the Home Secretary.
Priti Patel has asked the French to take responsibility for vessels even if they reach British waters, it is understood.
Currently migrants are escorted to British ports if they reach our maritime territory, but officials believe it would undermine people-trafficking gangs if the boats are returned to France. Mrs Patel’s plan would also see the British taxpayer funding more patrols on the French coast.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, pictured, has vowed to send boats packed with migrants seeking to land in Britain back to France
Figures have shown that only 155 people who arrived on small boats between January 2019 and April this year have been returned to France
A Home Office spokesman said a conversation between Mrs Patel and French interior minister Christophe Castaner had been ‘very positive’.
The French are ‘happy to explore ideas’ and will work with UK officials to hammer out a formal plan, the spokesman added.
The proposals come seven months after Mrs Patel and Mr Castaner signed a deal to step up patrols on the French coast that the Home Secretary predicted would virtually eradicate migrant crossings by this spring.
However, numbers have surged to record highs. A Home Office source said: ‘We would like to see more interception of migrant boats in French waters. That is the primary aim – to stop them crossing in the first place.
‘The secondary aim is to turn them around if they do reach this side of the Channel and take them back to France.’
It came as research showed Channel migrant crossings have topped 3,200 since the beginning of 2018 while Home Office efforts to remove them are ‘paralysed’.
The think-tank Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tougher border controls, said the number of migrants being returned to France was ‘abysmally low’.
Figures showed only 155 people who arrived on small boats between the start of January 2019 and early April this year were returned, it said. ‘The collapse in removals of those with no right to be here, including failed asylum seekers, is part of a worsening paralysis of enforcement which is spurring more trips,’ its report added.
Mirroring the new proposals put forward by Mrs Patel, the think-tank’s analysis went on: ‘The biggest incentive for those attempting dangerous Channel crossings is the knowledge that being picked up by a British Border Force vessel or managing to set foot on British soil provides a very good chance of a permanent stay in the UK.
‘One way of neutralising this would be an agreement between the UK and French governments that anyone intercepted wherever in the Channel or on reaching UK shores will be returned immediately to France where any application for asylum could be made.
‘The UK could undertake to contribute while applicants await a decision. In the event of asylum being refused, the UK could also contribute to the cost of repatriation.’
At least 1,065 migrants have been intercepted in the Channel and brought to Britain since the start of the year, including 11 who arrived at Dover yesterday.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage watched as the eight men and three women were brought into the port about 9.30am – despite being warned by police about non-essential travel after observing refugees arrive on Monday.
Border Force officers were alerted to the migrants’ rigid-hulled inflatable boat at 8am yesterday.
The migrants, who said they were from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, will be questioned by immigration officials. They were also checked for coronavirus symptoms.
Last week Mrs Patel revealed she wanted to see the law changed to deal with ‘vexatious’ asylum claims.
It was the first hint she is considering major reform of the legislation governing asylum claims, which are often appealed in the courts on human rights grounds.