'The pushback policy being pursued by the home secretary is unlawful, unworkable and above all morally reprehensible.'
Priti Patel’s own staff have announced that they are launching a legal challenge against her inhumane policy of pushing back boats in the Channel.
The union representing Border Force staff, PCS, and the charity Care4Calais, are demanding the Home Office publish details of the policy and the legal basis for it.
It comes after the tragic news that 27 people drowned trying to cross the Channel in an inflatable dinghy. Pressure has been growing on the government in recent days and weeks to change its plan to deploy Border Force staff to ‘pushback’ boats towards mainland Europe and French waters.
The PCS general secretary, Mark Serwotka, said: “The pushback policy being pursued by the home secretary is unlawful, unworkable and above all morally reprehensible.
“Our Border Force members are aghast at the thought they will be forced to implement such a cruel and inhumane policy. Migrants who are trying to reach this country should be allowed to do so via safe routes so that their claims can be assessed here. If the government does not abandon this appalling approach, we will pursue all legal avenues including a judicial review.
“PCS will not rule out all forms of industrial action, including disrupting the implementation of the pushback policy if the home secretary insists on going ahead.”
Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais said: “We are incredibly proud to be joined in this action by PCS.
“Not only will this challenge represent the interest of desperate people forced to risk their lives, it will also represent those who may well be forced to implement it.”
The Home Office said in response: “We are seeing an unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings and as part of our ongoing operational response, we continue our work to safely prevent such illegal crossings. The health, safety and wellbeing of our officers is paramount when undertaking their operational duties, which is why we provide extensive training and ensure all operational procedures comply and are delivered in accordance with domestic and international law.
“Last summer we held a formal consultation on new maritime tactics with the unions – we continue to work closely with all the trade unions and welcome their ongoing feedback.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward