The UK Border Force is set to use the tactics to force boats back towards France, with Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson adding that the government is continuing to “evaluate and test a range of safe and legal options” to stop “dangerous” migrant crossings.
Speaking on Thursday, they went on to add: “We know this is a long-standing problem that the public expect us to address. It simply cannot be right that … criminal gangs are able to exploit our most vulnerable and put their lives at risk.
“It needs to be addressed. It’s what the public want, and it’s what we’re doing.”
Twitter, however, disagrees, with the hashtag #NotInMyName trending on the social media platform as people express their opposition to the “shameful” tactics:
Not me...I think it is shameful #NotInMyName https://t.co/tM9jsiZomV
Unethical, impractical, and probably illegal. I am a member of the public and I do not want this! #NotInMyName https://t.co/aE7kaDsFQr
— Stephen Cobb, #FBPE (@Stephen Cobb, #FBPE)
The move has also been met with criticism from lawyers, charities and campaigners, with Steve Valdez-Symonds, from Amnesty International UK, describing the plan as “senseless, dangerous and almost certainly unlawful”.
Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action, said: “Resorting to cowardly, extreme and illegal pushbacks shows Government policy has always been about bullying refugees to score political points rather than breaking up smuggling gangs.
“We all want the boats to stop but this plan massively increases the chances of families drowning at sea.
“The Government must do what is right and provide routes to safety such as family reunion schemes, humanitarian visas, and an ambitious and long-term commitment to refugee resettlement.”
News of the new tactic came after Priti Patel, the home secretary, met with French interior minister Gérald Darmanin on Wednesday to discuss “tackling illegal migration across the Channel”.
“I made clear that delivering results and stopping crossings were an absolute priority for the British people,” she tweeted.