Friday, May 27

Channel migrants: UK confirms plan to use military to limit small boat crossings from France

Boris Johnson’s government has confirmed reports that it plans to involve the army in operations in the English Channel to try to limit the number of migrant crossings in small boats.

The move is reported as one of several populist moves designed to shore up support for the embattled prime minister, whose political survival is at stake following a series of scandals over parties thrown by its staff during the pandemic lockdowns.

In what has been unofficially dubbed “Operation Red Meat,” several policy projects have been discussed that are seen as an attempt to woo ruling Conservative politicians and party supporters, and divert attention from questions about Johnson’s leadership. .

Home Secretary (Home Secretary) Priti Patel told the House of Commons on Monday that she had designated the Ministry of Defense as a “crucial operational partner” in protecting the Canal against illegal immigration. More details will come later, he added.

The Defense Ministry told Euronews that efforts in the immediate term were expected to remain focused on understanding what could be done to make the system more effective and efficient, while ensuring that people do not drown in the Canal.

“Unacceptable numbers of people continue to dangerously cross the English Channel and the tragic deaths of last November serve as the starkest reminder of the need to stop them. The Government is exploring all avenues to prevent further crossings and details on how to achieve this will be provided.” . known in due time,” a spokesman said.

The Labor opposition accused the government of learning nothing from an earlier operation in 2019, when the navy was brought in to patrol the Channel but withdrew after six weeks, having made no interceptions in an experiment costing £780,000 (933,000). euros).

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“I think the British public will also support the government that we must do everything we can to protect our borders and that is why a combined approach is absolutely vital,” was Priti Patel’s response in the House of Commons.

There has also been criticism from conservative ranks. Tobias Ellwood, Chairman of the House of Commons Defense Committee, he told Sky News the plan was a “massive diversion, that’s not what the Navy should be doing.” He tweeted that he would ask more questions in parliament.

The government’s plan was backed by Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi. “It’s a good idea that there’s a single command and control, and that includes not just the warships but all the other ships, including the Border Force, so you really have a coordinated operation in terms of small boats,” he said. . he told Sky.

Reports in the UK media have said that the Royal Navy will be in control of operations on the Channel to tackle the migrant problem, with discussions involving the UK government and Border Force.

According to The Times, the government is considering plans to send migrants to countries such as Ghana and Rwanda for processing and resettlement.

Figures released earlier in the year suggested the number of migrants crossing the Canal in small boats. more than tripled in 2021.

Autumn saw an escalation dispute between the British and French governments — which reached a new intensity in November when at least 27 people died after their boat sank off the French coast, a tragedy that led French President Emmanuel Macron to call for greater European cooperation to prevent illegal immigration.

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Among the other reported policy moves the British government hopes will detract from criticism of the prime minister are plans to lift COVID restrictions and freeze and eventually reduce the BBC’s license fee.

Scottish National Party (SNP) spokesman Stuart McDonald told Priti Patel in the House of Commons that she had been “sent to the dispatch box to promote Operation Red Meat, because the proposals leaked over the weekend They have absolutely nothing to do with saving lives, everything to do with saving the prime minister’s career and his own political career.”

Recent weeks have brought revelations of a catalog of alleged lockdown-breaking meetings by Boris Johnson’s advisers, which threaten to topple the British prime minister. Opinion polls suggest that public support for his leadership has plummeted and some conservative politicians have added their voices to calls for him to step down.

Friday at Johnson’s office apologized to the royal family for throwing staff parties in Downing Street on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral last year.

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