Priti Patel Brings In Man Behind Australia’s Tough Asylum Policy to Review UK Border Force

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24: Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer is pictured as he arrives with the Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison to meet British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (L) at Number 11 Downing Street on January 24, 2017 in London, England. Mr Hammond …
Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Britain’s Home Secretary has tasked Alexander Downer, one of the masterminds of Australia’s tough border policies, with reviewing Britain’s notoriously weak Border Force.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has appointed former Australian foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer to look into how Britain can tackle the ever-rising number of migrant boat crossings in the English Channel, with over 28,000 illegal migrants landing in the United Kingdom by sea in 2021.

Downer, who represented Australia’s right-leaning Liberal Party, was one of the people behind Australia’s “Pacific solution” — implemented in 2001 — which entailed detaining illegal migrants attempting to enter Australia via boat overseas on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, where they would be held and processed.

Additionally, Australian authorities also stopped illegal migrant boats travelling from Indonesia and other Pacific islands at sea, refuelling them and sending them in another direction in a usually successful effort to prevent them from landing on the Australian coastline. Downer has said that he sees “no reason why this cannot be done in the [English] Channel”.

The ex-government minister will be tasked with conducting a review into all aspects of the Border Force including counter-smuggling operations, asylum claims, and immigration procedures at airports and ports, the Daily Mail reports.

Downer has previously praised Patel’s efforts to try to implement tougher migration policies and called for Britain to push the migrant boats back to France, highlighting the success that Australia had with similar “push-back” policies.

“My advice to Ms Patel would be to introduce the ‘push-back’ policy without fanfare, and to keep the French informed on a need-to-know basis only,” he said in September 2021.

“To solve a migration crisis, you have to smash the business model of the criminal gangs of people-traffickers, and the only way to do that is to convince would-be migrants – who are of course the smugglers’ paying customers – that they have little chance of reaching British shores,” Downer explained.

Britain’s governing Conservative Party has previously published plans to deport and detain illegal migrants overseas in commonwealth nations such as Ghana and Rwanda.

Such suggestions tend to gain little traction with the public, however, with the government forced to embarrassingly drop the plans when Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Twitter that said “Ghana has not engaged with the UK on any such plan and does not intend to consider any such operation”.

Reports that boat migrants might be sent to Albania for processing were also immediately shot down by the Albanian government, swiftly killing voters’ hopes that the reported scheme would ever go anywhere.

Patel has faced opposition from within the Border Force in regards to tackling illegal migration, with its former chief Paul Lincoln describing “bloody borders” as a “pain in the bloody arse”, and Border Force officials briefing they would refuse to push back boats even if they are ordered to, supposedly due to the risks involved in doing so.

Public sector unions have also indicated their opposition to Patel’s plans, with the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) which represents Border Force staff threatening industrial action if the Home Secretary proceeds with any ‘push-back’ plans — despite Patel warning that an increasing number of migrants will die if they are not deterred from making the deadly journey.

Patel has also highlighted the fact that many of the Channel crossers aren’t genuine asylum seekers, and stated that “the majority of them are single men”.

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