The British government is said to be planning to force back some of the boats carrying migrants trying to cross the canal. Home Secretary Priti Patel risks serious riots with her ally France.
Minister Patel will allow British border guards to turn back boats carrying migrants in British waters rather than escorting them to the English coast. However, a government source told the BBC that the measure would only be applied “in very specific cases”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously said he would use “every possible tactic at his disposal” to stop migrants crossing the canal.
Negative effect on cooperation
On Wednesday, Patel sat down with her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, on the matter, but they broke up without concrete results. After the conversation, Patel tweeted that she wanted results and made stopping the crossings a “top priority.”
France is expected to oppose the British plans because “saving lives at sea is a priority”. France doubts whether returns at sea in this context are not inconsistent with international law. In a letter to Patel, Darmanin warned on Monday that the measure “could have a negative impact on our cooperation.”
Moreover, experts believe that returning the boats without the cooperation of the French authorities is hardly feasible in practice. Pushing back migrants, often in rickety boats, can also be dangerous.
Belgian Minister of State for Asylum and Migration Sami Mehdi (CD&V) believes that pushbacks of migrants to France (and possibly Belgium) will solve some problems. If the British want to do something about irregular immigration after Brexit, they can certainly help strengthen the EU’s external borders. Screening who enter the European Union, gives protection to those who need it and brings back those who should not be here.” Belgian.
Because of the warm weather in the past few days, more than usual have ventured across the river. On Monday alone, the UK Home Office said 785 people crossed the canal into the UK in small boats. In total, more than 13,000 people have crossed the strait this year, according to the BBC. In the whole of 2020, there were 8,400 people.
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