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Boris Johnson toughens his anti-immigrant policy

Parliament is considering a bill giving immunity to Border Patrol personnel if boats are turned away off the British coast.

Control in the broad sense, immigration control in particular, was the main motivation for Brexiteers in the 2016 referendum. An elitist point-based visa system, inspired by the Australian model, has been introduced and seems to be succeeding beyond what Boris Johnson hoped forgiven the shortage of low-cost workers from Eastern European countries.

EU countries no longer buffer

But Brexit has also made the task of the border police a little more complicated, faced with a explosion in the number of migrants since the beginning of the year. This has more than doubled compared to last year (19,741 at the end of October, against 8,420 for the whole of 2020), most often on makeshift boats from the French coasts.



The exit from the Dublin regulation has paradoxically complicated the task of the British authorities.

The exit from the Dublin regulation has paradoxically complicated the task of the British authorities. This regulation, to which only member countries of the European Union are subject, indicates that each asylum application can only be examined by one European country, the one where the applicant’s fingerprints were first registered. This regulation was clearly to the advantage of the British before Brexit, since the other European countries acted as a “buffer” with the poor countries of the southern Mediterranean. France and Germany received 3 to 5 times more asylum applications respectively in 2020.

Britain’s exit from this regulation, due to Brexit, prompted Home Secretary Priti Patel to sign a new agreement this summer with Francewith in particular the financial support for part of the costs related to the surveillance of the French coasts (54 million pounds, or about 65 million euros).

But the effectiveness of the French patrols was deemed insufficientwhich was another reason for tension between the two countries, in addition to fishing quotas or the nebulous role played by the United Kingdom in Australia’s cancellation of the submarine contract signed with France, for the benefit of the new AUKUS alliance (Australia, United Kingdom, United States).

Strong method

Faced with the influx of illegal migrants, which alone could represent almost a quarter of the symbolic limit on immigration that the various conservative governments have set themselves since 2010, Priti Patel has applied the strong method.
First, by authorizing the border police to “pushing back” migrant boats approaching British shores.

Second, by trying to introduce an additional clause to the new Nationality and Borders Bill currently being drafted in Parliament, which would ensure Border Patrol immunity. In the 111-page bill, currently at second reading in the Commons, the paragraph slipped into the part relating to maritime controls states that “an officer shall not be subject to criminal or civil proceedings for any act carried out in performance of his duties, if the court finds that the act was done in good faith and that there was a rational basis for doing so.”



Border Police would not be responsible for the fate of a boat they asked to “leave UK waters”.

Concretely, Border Patrol would not be responsible for the fate of a boat they asked to ‘leave UK waters’according to the words used in this same section.

On this point, this law would be in keeping with the “spirit of Brexit” which consisted in recover full sovereignty over several international standards. This bill would, in this case, create some vagueness on the primacy of British law over international maritime law, even if the British Home Office ensures that all its “procedures” will remain “respectful of international law”.

The summary

  • Since Brexit, the United Kingdom country can no longer send migrants back to other countries of the European Union, as the Dublin regulation allowed it.
  • Result: the number of migrants arriving on English soil aboard makeshift boats has doubled in one year.
  • To stem these arrivals, a bill plans to grant immunity to the border police who would push back any boat of migrants.

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