Tory MPs are urging ministers to send people travelling to the UK in small boats to centres abroad, as far away as the Falkland Islands.
It comes as the Conservatives are under increasing pressure to keep their Brexit promise of “taking back control” of the UK’s borders, and prevent more people from dying by crossing the waters to England in winter – as more than 24,700 people have arrived in the UK so far this year by small boats, three time more than last year.
Labour accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of “comprehensively failing” to cut the number of people taking the journey, whilst Tory MPs are asking the government to make progress in discouraging people from coming to the UK.
“I would be in favour of [using] the Falkland Islands. The only way we will put these people off is by giving them the message that if you come here you are going to be sent 8,000 miles away,” Lee Anderson, Ashfield MP, told The Guardian.
And South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay said: “We had a Brexit election where one of the main issues was getting control of our borders. This is of massive concern to my constituency and many of our voters across the UK,” adding the government could try to send people back to France whilst warning “this could have diplomatic, high octane consequences”.
“In the long term, we should also be more involved in patrolling the French coastline,” he said.
Labour’s shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Patel is “comprehensively failing” to stop the arrivals.
Tories should ‘stop overpromising and underdelivering’
And Enver Solomon, chief executive at the Refugee Council, said the government “needs to stop overpromising and underdelivering”, as well as “recognise it’s a complex issue that requires less meaningless rhetoric and more intelligent realism, less harsh control and more human compassion.”
Meanwhile, health secretary Sajid Javid blamed the government’s inefficiency in tackling the problem on a lack of agreements with non-EU countries and the Covid pandemic.
He said: “We do need new agreements with countries, predominantly with the countries where most of the failed asylum seekers are coming from, and those aren’t always European countries, and this home secretary has done that, she has signed new agreements and put those in place with countries like India.
“But also I would say that the pandemic has made returning people across the world, across asylum systems, much harder, and we do have to take that into account as well.”
But last week, Patel blamed the “mass migration crisis” on the EU.
The Home Secretary said France is “overwhelmed” with migrants wanting to come to the UK as a result of the Schengen Agreement, which scrapped borders between the bloc’s countries – and suggested the European Union’s free movement policy is to blame for “illegal immigration flows”.