Tory MPs Finally Back Farage’s ‘Send Back the Boats’ Approach to Illegal Migration From France

DUNGENESS, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 07: A group of migrants arrive via the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) on Dungeness beach on September 7, 2021 in Dungeness, England. The week has seen a major increase in migrant numbers due to fair weather. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

There is growing pressure within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own party to enact the “high-octane measure” of adopting Brexit leader Nigel Farage’s proposal of sending boat migrants back to France, as record numbers of illegal aliens continue to pour across the English Channel.

In the past two days, alone, the number of migrants landing in Dover has totalled more than half of all illegals that arrived during the entirety of 2019. So far this year, an estimated 13,500 migrants have reached the UK by travelling in small rubber dinghies from the beaches of France. Estimates have predicted that by the end of the year, between twenty and thirty thousand could arrive through this method, compared to 8,410 last year.

With Home Secretary Priti Patel failing to enact any meaningful measures to stop the record waves of migrants, Conservative MPs have for the first time have begun arguing in favour of adopting an Australian-style send back the boats approach to deal with the crisis.

Conservative MP for South Thanet, Craig Mackinlay told The Guardian: “Immediate relief is in the hands of the French authorities. We need to up the stakes and consider immediate removal back to France of all who arrive via this illegal route and disregard diplomatic niceties.

“This, above all else, would show, and rapidly, that the route does not work and the migrants would simply not waste their money in trying it.

“I know that the home secretary is as frustrated as many of us and I have recommended such a high octane measure to her.”

The call was seconded by Tory MP Lee Anderson, who said that he personally told Priti Patel to adopt the measure in a meeting in London on Monday, saying that he also knew of other MPs backing the idea.

“I said we should drop these illegal immigrants, not migrants, off on a French beach and send the French government a bill for the cost of the journey,” the Ashfield MP said.

The Conservative MP for Dover, — the main landing point for migrants — Natalie Elphicke wrote on social media that she was also in favour of the move: “If the French won’t stop the small boats then we need to.”

The statements from Conservative MPs marks a significant turn in party opinion to the migrant crisis, coming in line with immigration hardliners such as Brexit leader Nigel Farage, who has consistently argued that the only way to stop illegal immigration in the English Channel would be to send the boats back to France.

Mr Farage and others have long argued in favour of adopting a similar policy to that enacted under former Australian Prime Minister’s Operation Sovereign Borders, which all but cut off illegal boat migration from places such as Indonesia by turning the boats back and holding alleged asylum seekers in third-party countries.

Last year, Mr Abbott said that before he enacted the strict immigration policy, Australia was in a similar quandary as the UK, as they were forced to pick up boat migrants in unseaworthy vessels and bring them to Australia’s shores.

Mr Abbott also correctly predicted that if Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government failed to get tough and send the boats back to France, the numbers of migrants landing in Britain would only increase.

On Tuesday evening, Mr Farage suggested that Home Secretary Priti Patel should be sacked, saying that she “keeps talking tough and delivering nothing and if there is a reshuffle coming this week maybe she’s one to go”.

Yet he predicted that whoever replaces her will have little impact on the situation, saying: “We’re still part of the European Convention on Human Rights, which makes deporting anybody anywhere very difficult and we have a government that is clearly not conservative in any way.”

Mr Farage said that by refusing to turn back the boats, Boris Johnson’s government is “utterly disrespecting the wishes of the Brexit-voting majority which was to take back control of our borders,” adding: “never in the history of our nation have our borders been abused as openly and as visually as they are at the moment.”

Mr Johnson attempted to defend his Home Secretary’s abysmal record on migration, telling the House of Commons that Priti Patel is “working right around the clock to ensure that we not only encourage the French to stiffen their sinews and stop people making the journey, but we use every possible tactic available to us as well.”

The French Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that the UK should be “cautious” about taking migrants back to their country, which as a safe, first world country, should be where they apply for asylum.

Ironically, Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said that sending the migrants back to France would be a breach of their human rights, suggesting that his own country is worthy of fleeing from.

“Not giving a chance to children to be protected is something that should be tolerated in modern society. We are talking about human rights and dignity,” the French MP said.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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