UK ready to send migrant boats back to France

Crossing the English Channel may be about to get even more dangerous for those seeking a new life in the UK, under plans approved by Britain to turn away boats illegally carrying migrants to its shores.

Britain's border officials will now be trained to force boats away from its waters, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's spokesman saying they were looking at safe and legal ways to do so.

Charities said the plans could be illegal.

Channel Rescue, a citizen patrol group on the English coast, said international maritime law stipulated that ships have a clear duty to assist those in distress.

The move risks deepening a diplomatic rift with France over how to deal with a surge of people crossing the English Channel in dinghies.

Hundreds of small boats have attempted the journey across what is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes so far this year.

This summer saw a record number of attempted crossings - one day in August saw at least 482 migrants making the journey.

France's Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin has said forcing boats back towards the French coast would be dangerous, and that the United Kingdom must stick to its commitments on migrant crossings.

In July, France and Britain agreed to deploy more police and invest in detection technology to clamp down on Channel crossings.

French police have confiscated more dinghies but they say they cannot completely prevent departures.

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