Priti Patel has reportedly ordered officials to draw up plans that could see Royal Navy patrols deployed in the English Channel, after a record-breaking 235 migrant crossings took place on Thursday.
More than 1,100 migrants arrived in the UK in July alone, according to PA Media analysis – almost as much as the total number of those who arrived in May and June combined.
On Thursday 235 people crossed the Channel by boat, breaking a record set only a week ago, when 202 people crossed in 24 hours.
In total, 17 vessels were apprehended. Among them was said to be a group of 15, including children and a heavily pregnant woman.
According to reports, the home secretary has asked officials to draw up plans in which the Navy could turn back boats for the first time.
“All options” were being considered, one government source told the Daily Mail.
A Home Office source said: “The final straw was this record number, which led the home secretary to demand this new initiative.
“The real solution must come from the French – we want the French to take them back.”
The Refugee Council said deploying the Navy would only serve to push people to “take even greater risks” with coming into the UK.
Former Labour home secretary Jacqui Smith said Patel should focus on continuing the discussion which “home secretaries have always had with their French counterparts”.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, she said: “Any of us who know the Channel know that you must be pretty desperate to try and get across.”
“Rather than sabre-rattling about using the Navy, why not get some better coordination going between the UK and France about how we can actually prevent people from taking to the seas in such a dangerous way in the first place?”