Priti Trying to Placate 30 Angry Tory MPs Over Migrant Boat Crossings

Guido understands the Home Secretary is currently on a conference call with thirty Tory MPs demanding answers to the migrant situation in the channel as reported by Guido this morning. Guido hears she is being ‘pretty robust’ about how unacceptable the situation is to her. She is also arguing that while the UK remains in the EU’s transition period, this problem cannot be effectively tackled…

A Home Office source tells Guido that “most of the MPs” Priti is talking to are onboard with what she’s saying, and that there are no raised voices.

While Priti tries to placate her party over the situation, Guido has spoken with the Home Office regarding the questions he posed this morning. The answers and explanations from the Home Office are summarised below:

Is the Home Secretary Priti Patel aware of what the border force is doing?

  • The French boat was not escorting the migrant boat. International maritime law prevents border force intervening with boats unless they are expressly invited to. The boats were shadowing the migrant vessel in case it sank and the people needed rescuing. The first duty French and British vessels is to save life at sea. Upon arrival those aboard the boats have to be processed through the asylum system before the Government is legally able to return them.

Has this collaboration been given Ministerial approval?

  • Collaboration is wide of the mark. Priti raises the issue of channel crossings with the French interior minister every time she sees him. Both are committed to stopping it, but have to work within the framework of international law, meaning the work to stop crossings can largely only be done on land not at sea. More will be able to done to deal with boats once they have landed on British shores when the Brexit transition period ends. The Government is keen to reassess the EU’s Dublin convention on asylum application.

Is the French Navy not in breach of EU directives and/or law?

  • The French Navy is following international law. It would be illegal to intervene with the boat. Instead, the navy is committed by law to save lives at sea, and consequently shadows boats that are at risk.

Is this the official or unofficial policy of the French government?

  • The French Government has been working well with the British to stop illegal channel crossings. They do not want to allow crossings as this creates a strong pull factor for more migrants to come across continental Europe to northern France in the hope of crossing too. It is a big domestic political problem for them, and they have been largely successful in clearing migrant camps and patrolling beaches. 100 people were stopped over the weekend. Boats do however slip through the net.

Guido asked why it was the case that the Australians were able to turn back boats uninvited. They do it by breaking international law. It upsets the UN and embroils the Australian Government in a lot of legal trouble with powerful interest groups, it works though…

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mdi-account-multiple-outline Priti Patel
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