Boats carrying migrants from France to UK shores will be intercepted by British border forces, and migrants will be pushed back, risking a row with French authorities, according to local reports.
The UK’s border force staff are being trained to use “turn-around” tactics at sea to prevent migrants on boats from reaching the coast, according to a statement from the Home Office.
However, the new tactic is a subject of dispute between the British home secretary and French interior minister, who met on Wednesday to discuss migration during a G7 ministerial summit.
French authorities are likely to oppose the proposed British measures, as Gerald Darmanin said preventing any loss of life at sea must come first, BBC News reported.
"Safeguarding human lives at sea takes priority over considerations of nationality, status and migratory policy, out of strict respect for the international maritime law governing search and rescue at sea," said the interior minister.
Discussion of the new tactic to push back migrants in boats to French waters comes after more than 1,500 migrants crossed the English Channel this week.
According to a report by The Daily Telegraph, Home Secretary Priti Patel had secured legal advice for vessels to redirect small boats away from British waters.
The paper reported that the tactics would only be used when it was deemed safe and in limited circumstances.
- Greek example
The tactic proposed by British authorities has been already in use in the Aegean Sea in southern Europe, by Greek authorities who push migrants in boats back to Turkish waters.
Turkey and human rights groups have repeatedly condemned Greece's illegal practice of pushing back asylum seekers, saying it violates humanitarian values and international law by endangering the lives of vulnerable migrants, including women and children.
A recent report by Amnesty International, Greece: Violence, lies and pushbacks, documented “how the Greek authorities are conducting illegal pushbacks at land and sea.”
Pushbacks are considered contrary to international refugee protection agreements.