Escort boats carrying migrants across Channel back to France, Yorkshire MP Philip Davies demands

Small boats carrying migrants across the Channel should be pushed back to France on “humanitarian grounds” as well as to protect the UK’s borders, Yorkshire MP Philip Davies has suggested.

Mr Davies, the Conservative MP for Shipley, told Home Office Questions in Parliament: “If everyone is agreed that the Channel crossings are so dangerous then clearly we need to do whatever is necessary to stop them. Surely the quickest way to stop them is simply to turn the boats back and escort them back into French waters.

“I don’t think it would take long for the word to get around that these crossings were futile. Hasn’t the time come to do that on humanitarian grounds as well as to protect our borders from illegal immigration?”

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Home Secretary Priti Patel replied that was “absolutely the policy of this Government”, adding: “Means are being tested, technology is being used, but also the way in which boats can be pushed back has also been well tested.”

A lady carries a small child as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel at the weekend.

The exchange came after it was reported the Government plans to put the military in charge of tackling the number of boats crossing the Channel from the Border Force. In November, 27 people died after an inflatable dinghy capsized in the Channel.

Labour shadow Home Office minister and Halifax MP Holly Lynch said of the plan to bring in the military: “We have been here before. In 2019, the Government brought in the Navy to patrol the Channel. Patrols ended after around six weeks and cost £780,000 without a single boat having been intercepted.

“Can the Home Secretary explain how today’s proposals will be any different to 2019 and prevent lives from being lost at sea?”

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Ms Patel said: “I think the British public will also support the Government that we should do everything possible to protect our borders and that is why a blended approach is absolutely vital.”

SNP shadow home affairs spokesman Stuart McDonald said sending in the military would be “pathetic, it’s inhumane and an abuse of the Royal Navy”.

He said: “The Home Secretary has quite a nerve to talk about political gimmicks given that she’s the first person to be sent out to the despatch box to further Operation Red Meat, because the proposals leaked out over the weekend have absolutely nothing to do with saving lives, everything to do with saving the Prime Minister’s career and her own political career.”

Ms Patel said in response: “He needs to understand the international exploitation of human lives and human beings that take place.”

Asylum processing centres 'may be set up abroad'

The Government is considering “all options” in moving asylum processing centres offshore, Home Secretary Priti Patel said, after reports that Gambia has been approached to outsource asylum seekers in Britain.

Labour MP for Hackney North Diane Abbott asked whether there was any truth to the reports and criticised the idea for failing to meet the “spirit” of the nation’s obligation to asylum seekers.

Ms Patel replied: “We will continue to discuss this with a range of countries because I, as Home Secretary, and this Government are absolutely determined to fix what is a decades-long problem of a very broken asylum system.”

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