LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s navy has rejected a plan to deny boats carrying migrants illegally to its shores when it takes responsibility for trying to stop people crossing the English Channel in small dinghies.
The government said last month it would give the navy responsibility for monitoring small boats crossing from France to England, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Home Secretary Priti Patel last year approved plans for border officers, who deal with crossings, to be trained to force boats away from UK waters using jet skis.
The controversial tactic has so far not been used and the Navy ruled it out in the future after Patel told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that the military had not made a final decision on whether whether it would be involved in such operations.
“The @RoyalNavy and @RoyalMarines will not use push-back tactics in the English Channel, although a military commander will retain the existing capability to order border forces to use them where appropriate,” the Ministry of Defense said. Defense on Twitter.
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“Another update will follow in due course.”
The government endured months of criticism from the Conservative benches of Parliament over refugee crossings, which continued through the winter.
Last year, more than 28,000 migrants and refugees crossed the English Channel to Britain, more than three times as many as in 2020.
On Tuesday, Patel said French President Emmanuel Macron was “absolutely wrong” to blame Britain for the crisis.
Macron previously told a French newspaper that Britain’s reliance on illegal immigrant labor was behind the rise in the number of people coming from France.
Britain and France have swapped accusations since a dinghy sinking in November left 27 people dead, with the two countries blaming each other for the crossings.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by William James and Tomasz Janowski)
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