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Channel crossings: Priti Patel to send boats carrying migrants to the UK back to France

It is understood that a range of options are being evaluated and tested for finding ways to stop small boats making the journey across the Channel

The Home Secretary has reportedly sanctioned new tactics to redirect migrant boats in the Channel back to France.

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

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • The reports come after a G7 interior minister’s meeting on Wednesday
  • 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
  • They would only deploy the “pushback” tactics when deemed practical and safe to do so
  • Reports suggested such operations were likely to be restricted to sturdier, bigger migrant boats and only used in “very limited circumstances”

What’s been said

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on maritime operational activity.”

Government sources told the PA news agency that Ms Patel and the French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin, 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”.

A Government source said: “The Home Secretary was clear with the French interior minister that the British public expect to see results.”

Background

It is understood that a range of options are being evaluated and tested for finding ways to stop small boats making the journey across the Channel.

Ms Patel and Mr Darmanin held discussions on crossings at Lancaster House in London.

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 is seen in the number of migrants that are intercepted by French authorities.

The UK authorities had to rescue or intercept 456 people as part of 17 incidents on Tuesday (7 September) and 301 people as part of nine incidents on Wednesday (8 September), according to the Home Office.

The French authorities reported a total of 18 events over the two days preventing a total of 628 people from reaching the UK.