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Government plans for Navy patrols in English Channel in crossing crackdown branded gimmick by Labour

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Government plans to bring in the Navy to help halt would-be asylum seekers reaching the UK have been dismissed by Labour as a gimmick designed to divert attention away from the troubled Prime Minister.

Mike Tapp, a former military intelligence officer who has also worked for the National Crime Agency and is a Labour activist from Tunbridge Wells, said there was no evidence the Navy would make much difference.

Navy patrols plan just a gimmick - Labour activist and former intelligence officer Mike Tapp
Navy patrols plan just a gimmick - Labour activist and former intelligence officer Mike Tapp

"At the end of the day, what we are seeing here is a cheap gimmick by the Conservatives and they are trying to save votes after Boris Johnson’s appalling behaviour.

"It does not make any difference having the Navy out there; it would only make any difference if the government was funding the Border Force and funding the police and National Crime Agency properly so they could get ahead of the game and take effective action against the crime groups.

"It is frustrating for the Navy to get sucked in to this political game and it is frustrating for voters, who put their faith in the administration to sort this out, which they are clearly not.

"It puts more boats out there to rescue people, which is what I hope they would be doing because I doubt they are going to bear arms."

But Dover MP Natalie Elphicke welcomed the intervention.

Natalie Elphicke has called for a tougher stance on asylum seekers crossing the Channel
Natalie Elphicke has called for a tougher stance on asylum seekers crossing the Channel

"Everyone knows the Royal Navy rules the waves. This sends a clear message how serious Britain is about putting a stop to the small boat crossings.

"It is necessary because it is dangerous and inhumane to allow the trafficking of people across the English Channel to continue.

"It is incredibly unsafe and many people have tragically died. More lives are put at risk every single day it continues. The right, compassionate thing to do is to keep people safe on land, in France."

Mike Tapp said he supported the idea of safe routes but there were not any.

"It is why we are seeing thousands of desperate individuals putting themselves at risk by making the journey across the channel."

Some 28,000 migrants made the journey in small boats in 2021 - up from 8,417 people the year before - despite huge UK investment in France to prevent crossings.

But Bridget Chapman, of Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN) said the plan was part of a "chaotic pattern of sensationalist responses by the government" which has "only served to make the situation much worse".

"It's the latest in a long line of announcements and leaks – from floating walls and wave machines, to processing people in Albania or on Ascension Island.

"Many of them were aimed at grabbing headlines but never materialised into anything.

"It shows a lack of respect for the electorate, and a tawdry attitude to our responsibilities as part of a global community.

"The fact is that the numbers arriving are very manageable and it would be far better to work on ways of accepting and integrating asylum seekers so that they can start to rebuild their shattered lives."

We have closed the ability to comment on this story due to the number of abusive and racist posts received on the subject of asylum seekers in recent times.

We appreciate it is a very divisive issue but must ensure our comments adhere to house rules.

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