Plans from Priti Patel to turn boats of desperate migrants around in the Channel and send them back to French waters are “cruel and destined to fail”, human rights experts have said.
The government is reportedly training Border Force in “turn-around” tactics, which would mean forcing small boats back before they reach British shores – through the world’s busiest shipping lane – to be dealt with by French authorities instead.
The plan is “senseless, dangerous and almost certainly unlawful,” said Steve Valdez-Symonds, refugee and migrant rights director for Amnesty International UK.
“Intercepting vessels in the Channel is incredibly high-risk,” he added. “To push people back will endanger their lives, which is totally at odds with the legal duty of rescue at sea.”
The prime minister’s spokesperson did not confirm the plans but said: “We continue to evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options to find ways of stopping small boats making this dangerous and unnecessary journey.”
Gerald Darmanin, interior minister for France, accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of “financial blackmail” and said French officials would not accept any UK actions which breach maritime law.