Boris Johnson and the Home Secretary Priti Patel.
  • The UK government is considering a plan to use nets to prevent boats carrying migrants from coming to the UK to claim asylum.
  • Dan O'Mahoney, the official tasked with clamping down on people crossing the channel to claim asylum, said officials were considering a plan to use nets to clog propellers and bring small boats carrying migrants to a standstill.
  • 'It's that type of thing, yes,' O'Mahoney told the Telegraph. 'So, safely disabling the engine and then taking the migrants onboard our vessel.'
  • The proposal comes as record numbers of people claiming asylum attempt the Channel crossing from France to England
  • Other Home Office proposals, most of which have been dismissed, included one to install boats with pumps generating waves, an idea which was dismissed to the risk of the smaller boats capsising.
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The UK government is considering a plan to use nets to prevent boats carrying migrants from coming to the UK to claim asylum.

The Home Office's clandestine channel threat commander Dan O'Mahoney said officials were considering a plan to use nets to clog propellers and bring boats to a standstill as they cross from France to England.

"It's that type of thing, yes," O'Mahoney told the Sunday Telegraph. "So, safely disabling the engine and then taking the migrants onboard our vessel."

The proposal comes as record numbers of people claiming asylum attempt the Channel crossing from France to England, with 7,000 people estimated to have arrived in the UK in small boats this year, according to analysis by PA Media.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said in August the number of people crossing was "appalling and unacceptably high" and was working to make the route "unviable."

O'Mahoney said the net plan was one of several "which we may deploy over the next few months" but declined to detail which others were under consideration.

He added: "We definitely are very, very close to being able to operationalise a safe return tactic where we make an intervention safely on a migrant vessel, take migrants onboard our vessel and then take them back to France."

Other "blue-sky" proposals, which have been leaked to the press in recent weeks, included one to install boats with pumps generating waves, an idea which was dismissed to the risk of the smaller boats capsizing.

Officials also considered whether it was possible to link a series of small boats together in order to form a physical barrier to deter migrants, as well as a plan to house migrants seeking asylum on Ascension Island, which is more than 5,000 miles from the UK in the South Atlantic.

Downing Street did not deny that the Ascension Island plan had been discussed but said cited the original Financial Times report which said it had been dismissed as unworkable.

The idea which has gained most traction, and is reportedly under serious consideration by the Home Office, is to hold migrants on disused ferries off the coast.

A source told the Sun newspaper last week: "There is a real determination to tackle this problem and things are now moving forward. The ferry plan is on. It's happening."

Labour's shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds last week criticised the original leaked plans,tweeting: "This is a vile example of how degraded an environment the Tories have created. The Windrush Review was damning about the inhumane culture they have created at the Home Office. They've learned nothing."

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