Channel crossings: Group rescued near Kent coast
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The Ministry of Defence has told the Government that the Royal Navy will no longer be responsible for migrants illegally crossing into the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson put the Royal Navy in charge of migrants at the Channel this year as part of a new plan to deal with illegal immigration.
The Royal Navy has proposed it will relinquish the responsibility of illegal migrants at the Channel on January 31 2023.
A Government source told the Telegraph that it wishes to give the charge back to Border Force “unless there are ministerial actions”.
A Ministry of Defence source has suggested the Navy will continue to patrol the Channel and would help if needed.
However, another source has said that the plan was to always review the plan by January 31, one year after the Royal Navy began its operation.
This report comes only four months after Boris Johnson announced his Rwanda policy, in which he said the objection was to ensure “no boat makes it to the UK undetected”.
The policy would send people arriving on small boats from France to Rwanda and then have their asylum seeker claim processed in an “offshore” facility.
In April, the Prime Minister said the Royal Navy would be given £50million in new funding to be tasked with investigating migrants crossing the Channel from France into the UK.
Mr Johnson’s immigration plan has been controversial among other politicians, with the Labour party describing it as “unethical” while the Liberal Democrats accused it of being “dystopian”.
Despite the Royal Navy’s responsibility, the number of migrants at the Channel has increased significantly this year.
In 2022, over 25,00 migrants have attempted to cross the Channel compared to 8,466 in 2020 and 1,843 in 2019.
The Home Affairs committee report on the policy has said the Rwanda plan has not been effective.
They said: “There is no clear evidence that the policy will deter migrant crossings – numbers have significantly increased since it was announced in April.”
The report said one explanation for the increase in Channel crossing may be traffickers telling migrants to make the journey before the policy took place.
“One explanation for [the rise in migrant crossings] may be attributed to scaremongering from people traffickers, that because of new regulations coming in across the Channel it will be much harder to access the UK in future, so they had better get on with it,” the report said.
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Britain’s next Prime Minister will be tasked with setting a new immigration policy, as both Conservative Party leadership candidates have said the Channel migrant issue is a priority.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said she would “support and extend” Boris Johnson’s Rwanda deportation policy.
Liz Truss said in an interview with ITV news: “We need to make sure that the appalling people traffickers don’t succeed in bringing small boats across the English Channel.”
She continued: “I would support and extend the Rwanda policy to more countries but also I would make sure in British law that we can’t be overruled by the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights) so we are able to protect our borders.”
Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak has ruled out withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights and would find another solution, but has also backed the Rwanda policy.
In an article for the Sun newspaper, Mr Sunak wrote: “People are tired of seeing small boats arrive in this country with the authorities appearing helpless to stop them.
“I know Sun on Sunday readers are patriotic, generous people who want to help those who play by the rules and need our assistance.
“They are rightly baffled as to why the Government can’t stop the boats drifting on to Britain’s beaches hour by hour.”
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