MIGRANT CRISIS – UK Border Force officials threaten strike action if they are forced to turn around boats carrying illegal migrants in the Channel.

According to a union, Priti Patel’s “morally reprehensible” proposals to send back dinghies in the English Channel might lead to a walkout.

Campaigners fear that the Home Office’s plan to turn tiny boats around in the middle of the ocean would put lives in jeopardy.

The news comes after PA news agency figures showed that 28,300 people crossed the Dover Strait on small boats in 2021, a threefold increase from the previous year’s total.

The Government has invited firms to a non-disclosure, agreement-bound conference to hear “innovative ideas” in the hope of finding a solution to the problem.

An application for judicial review of the pushback policy has been submitted by charity Care4Calais and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), whose members comprise almost 80% of Border Force employees who would be responsible for their implementation.

They plan to contest the legality of rerouting boats from British seas to French waters.

According to the union, border Force employees might face criminal charges if the strategy is implemented since it “contravenes international law and is morally reprehensible”.

Union leaders haven’t ruled out taking industrial action and preventing the pushbacks even if the court case fails.

Mark Serwotka, the PCS secretary-general, stated: “The legality of the pushbacks policy is in serious question, and it is right that the court decides whether it is unlawful to turn back Channel boats.”

“We cannot have a situation where our members could be open to potential civil, and criminal action for implementing a policy that they do not agree with and know is not safe.”

“Although we are hoping for a positive outcome from the legal proceedings, people should be in no doubt PCS strongly opposes this policy, on moral and humanitarian grounds, and we will not rule out industrial action to prevent it being carried out.”

According to the founder of the organisation Care4Calais: “The proposed policy deprioritises the UK’s duty under domestic and international law to save lives at sea.”

“It is for good reason that this duty is a cornerstone of international maritime law. If eroded, I fear it will enable the UK to devalue lives at sea.”

“It risks opening the gates to the horrific scenes we are seeing in the Mediterranean,” she added.