The Royal Navy has tested the use of nets to stop migrants in the English Channel, Priti Patel said yesterday.
Military ships worked with the UK Border Force in May and June, trying tactics to deploy against small boats crossing France.
The Minister of the Interior made the disclosure when she criticized Paris for not having mastered the migrant crisis.
More than 2,750 illegal immigrants are said to have reached the UK across the Channel this year, including 90 unconfirmed who landed in Dover yesterday.
This compares to just 1,850 in the past year. On Sunday, there was a record 180, piled on board 15 dinghies.
More than 2,750 illegal immigrants are said to have reached the UK across the Channel this year, including 90 unconfirmed who landed in Dover yesterday
The numbers are skyrocketing despite Miss Patel’s promise, made in October, that she would have virtually eliminated Channel crossings by now.
Yesterday, she said she was trying to persuade the French to “show their will” and allow the return of arrivals.
Miss Patel said international maritime laws allow the UK to stop migrant boats from reaching British soil, but Paris interprets the rules differently.
“I think there could be more stringent enforcement measures on the French side,” Ms. Patel told MEPs yesterday.
“I’m looking to make changes. We have a major problem, major with these small boats. We are fundamentally looking to change working methods in France.
“I had very, very – I think it’s fair to say – difficult discussions with my French counterpart, even with regard to interceptions at sea, because currently the French authorities do not intercept the boats.
“And by that I mean boats that are only about 250 meters from the French coast.
“Much of this is governed by maritime law and the French authorities’ interpretations of what they can and cannot do. “
She confirmed that French patrol vessels will only intervene to stop migrant boats if they are sinking – not to prevent illegal crossings.
Regarding Navy participation, Miss Patel told the House of Commons Committee on Home Affairs: “We have conducted a series of exercises in the water at sea involving a range of maritime assets, including military.
The interior minister, photographed yesterday, made the disclosure when she criticized Paris for not having mastered the migrant crisis
“We can strengthen Border Force and show how we can take ships safely and send them back to France.
“It is indeed the dialogue that we are currently initiating with the French to find out how they can work with us and show their will. Because it is useless for their country.
Tim Loughton, a Conservative member of the committee, asked the Minister of the Interior, “Can you confirm that you think the French have the power – which they claim not to have – to intercept boats at sea?” “
She replied: ‘Absolutely right. And that is what we strive to achieve until the sharing of legal advice in maritime law matters. Through the pandemic where the weather has been favorable, we have seen an increase in numbers and we must end this road.
“We want to break this road, we want to make it unsustainable. The only way to do this is to intercept and return the boats to France. “
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who was appointed just ten days ago, will travel to Dover next month to see the impact of migrant boats on the local community.
“The interior minister is increasingly frustrated with the French side, but we have new hopes that the new interior minister will want to resolve this problem,” said a source from Whitehall.
Nine Eritrean stowaways were discovered yesterday in the back of a truck during a Welcome Break service on the M40. Police were called after witnesses saw movements in the back of the truck parked in Oxfordshire.