Armed forces set to take over English Channel operations

Photo  credit: Sky News

By Nathan Otaba,

The armed forces will be in command of operations aimed at reducing migrant crossings over the English Channel.

The Ministry of Defense has been commissioned as a “critical operational partner to secure our Channel against unlawful migration,” according to Home Secretary Priti Patel.

Tobias Ellwood, head of the Defence Select Committee, criticized the proposals as “rushed” and a “huge distraction” for the military.

Rear Admiral Mike Utley, the commander of the UK strike force, has been appointed to co-ordinate the plans.

Last year, the number of persons who crossed was three times that of 2020. According to the Home Office, 197 persons were intercepted or rescued attempting to cross the English Channel on Saturday alone. The journey of 95 individuals on five ships was halted by French officials.

Sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told reporters that talks between the armed forces and the Home Office and the UK Border Force had been going on for some weeks.

They stated that no decisions had been taken about how the Royal Navy or other services would be involved, and that there was no sign that migrant boats would be pushed back to France.

Despite Ms Patel’s suggestion in the House of Commons that the armed forces may be involved in the contentious policy, she stated that it was “totally the government’s position.”

Another source said there was “trepidation” within the MoD about getting involved in such a complex situation, while another said the details of how the military could coordinate activities were still being worked out.

It is understood overall policy on migration and migrant management would still be led by the Home Office.

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