Migrant news: Boris’s plan to tackle crossings ‘will aid traffickers’, warns ex navy chief

France ‘refuse to patrol Channel’ says former immigration officer

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Lord West of Spithead who was Britain’s first sea lord between 2002 and 2006 said the policy of using the Navy to stop boat crossings would not work. The Labour Peer said in the absence of any agreement to return the migrants to France the policy would play into the hands of people smugglers.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One, he said: “This will not stop the migrant crisis. Picking them up at sea does not solve the problem of not giving them back.

“We don’t have an agreement with France to give them back yet.

“All you’re acting as is a very efficient conduit for people smugglers, with migrants being picked up nice and safely by a royal navy warship.”

Lord West added that although Navy involvement might prevent deaths it would do nothing to solve the wider issue of migration.

“I don’t think it makes any difference really to the problem of more coming across.

“Because if I was a people trafficker, I would say to them all, ‘Get in your little boat and go out there, the royal navy is now in control of all of the shipping that is looking out for you, you will be picked up and then you will be taken to Britain and then you’re pretty well on your way’.”

The decision to involve the military is thought to be among a series of “Operation Red Meat” measures.

This involves announcing a series of populist policies aimed at the core Tory support in order to improve the Prime Minister’s poor poll ratings. 

Labour have also slammed the idea with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper arguing it was a distraction from the scandal of the lockdown parties held at Downing Street.

She said: “This looks like Boris Johnson is using the situation to chase headlines to distract from the total mess he is in as a result of rule-breaking parties in No 10.”

According to The Independent it is not expected that Royal Navy involvement will mean the appearance of Royal Marines or Warships.

They will also not be expected to perform “pushbacks” – the act of physically turning small boats back to France. 

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A team under Rear Admiral Mike Utley, has been put in charge of “Operation Isotrope” – which will determine the role the military may be able to make to deal with the migrant crossings.

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