Royal Navy will take over responsibility for tackling people crossing Channel from today, PM confirms

Boris Johnson said the Royal Navy will take over responsibility for tackling people crossing the English Channel

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Mr Johnson said giving the Royal Navy responsibility for tackling migrants crossing the English Channel will send a clear message to criminal gangs.

He said: “This will be supported by £50million of new funding for new boats, aerial surveillance and military personnel.

“In addition to the existing taskforce of patrol vessels, helicopters, search and rescue aircraft, drones and remotely piloted aircraft, this will send a clear message to those piloting the boats: if you risk other people’s lives in the Channel, you risk spending your own life in prison.

“People who do make it to the UK will be taken not to hotels at vast public expense, rather they will be housed in accommodation centres like those in Greece with the first of these to open shortly.”

Boris Johnson in Kent today
Boris Johnson in Kent today
Priti Patel
Priti Patel

It came as the Prime Minister made a speech in Dover on the Rwanda immigration scheme.

He said the new offshore asylum approach is intended to end the “barbaric trade in human misery conducted by the people smugglers in the channel”, and said crossings could reach 1,000 a day in a few weeks.

He said: “These vile people smugglers are abusing the vulnerable and turning the Channel into a watery graveyard.”

He also warned of “exploitation” if people enter the UK that way.

The PM added: “To identify, intercept and investigate these boats, from today the Royal Navy will take over operational command from Border Force in the Channel, taking primacy for our operational response at sea in line with many of our international partners with the aim that no boat makes it to the UK undetected.”

He justified the move by citing the 2016 Brexit vote.

Mr Johnson said the Government is fulfilling the outcome of the EU referendum and said illegal immigration has “bedevilled our country for too long”.

He continued: “We cannot sustain a parallel illegal system. Our compassion may be infinite, but our capacity to help people is not.

“The British people voted several times to control our borders, not to close them, but to control them.

“So just as Brexit allowed us to take back control of legal immigration by replacing free movement with our points-based system, we are also taking back control of illegal immigration, with a long-term plan for asylum in this country.”