Priti Patel’s proposal to detain and deport small boats in the English Channel is being challenged in court by a union representing Border Force workers.
The fact that Patel’s own employees are involved in a court fight against the high-profile policy will be a severe blow to her as she faces criticism from fellow Conservatives for failing to get a handle on the problem.
After their dinghy capsized on Wednesday, 27 people died in the Channel—the biggest loss of life since the small boat crisis started. More than 23,000 migrants have entered the UK this year, breaking previous records.
Migrants have not been discouraged by the icy conditions and plunging temperatures of the Channel crossing.
As part of their legal battle, Care4Calais and one other charity have enlisted the help of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS). There is no guarantee that PCS will not take action to disrupt the strategy if the home secretary insists on it.
Pressure is mounting on the government to abandon its proposal to have Border Force officers physically drive boats back from the UK’s shores in response to this week’s loss of dozens of lives in the Channel. A court challenge brought by PCS and two other charities demands that the policy and its legal foundation be made public.
It is expected that the administration will answer by Monday at the latest. PCS and the charity may file judicial review procedures against the government if it refuses to drop the programme.
Pushback plans are being challenged by other organisations, including Channel Rescue and Freedom from Torture.
This winter, even worse scenes in the Channel might result from Europe’s failure to cooperate, Patel warned late on Saturday night.
Despite being excluded by the French from a conference of European colleagues to address the migratory situation, she promised to continue to press for better next week.
There will be an EU-hosted meeting of interior ministers in Calais on Sunday to examine small boat crossings between the European Union member states.
Boris Johnson enraged Emmanuel Macron by publicly publishing a letter he sent to the French president on how to deal with the matter. Patel’s invitation was cancelled as a result.
According to the Guardian, Duncan Lewis solicitors’ public law department, which has launched several human rights challenges against Home Office rules, is representing the PCS union and Care4Calais.
“We are seeing an unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings,” the Home Office stated, “as part of our ongoing operational response, we continue our work to safely prevent such illegal crossings.”
“We undertook a formal consultation with the unions last summer on new marine tactics – we continue to work closely with the trade unions and welcome their continuous comments.”