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Outrage as armed forces deployed against English Channel refugees

Royal Navy vessels

Outrage as armed forces deployed against English Channel refugees

The Peace Pledge Union have denounced UK government plans to give the Royal Navy authority to deal with people crossing the Channel on small boats.

The plan will see civilian agencies subjected to oversight by a senior Royal Navy officer.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), Britain’s leading pacifist network, accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of knee-jerk militarism. They said that it is wildly unrealistic to suggest that deep-seated problems can be solved by armed force.

Recent research by the Refugee Council revealed that around a third (33.2%) of people crossing the Channel in small boats are from countries that have been bombed or invaded by UK armed forces in the last 20 years.

The PPU accused the Prime Minister of a desperate and insulting attempt to distract the public from “partygate” by attacking vulnerable people.

According to the Times, Boris Johnson’s plan will involve giving a Rear Admiral oversight of coastguard, fisheries protection, Border Force and Customs & Excise operations. The PPU described this is a military power-grab, with civilian agencies being subjected to military authority.

They added that the plan is the latest example of everyday militarism, with military institutions and attitudes creeping into more and more areas of civilian life.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union, said:

Boris Johnson is insulting the British public. He seems to think that he can distract us from partygate by sending troops against desperate and vulnerable refugees risking their lives in dinghies. This vile plan is lacking in all compassion and won’t make us any safer.

It is pure fantasy to suggest that the world’s problems can be solved by armed force. A third of Channel refugees are from countries that have been attacked by UK troops. Now Boris Johnson is deploying those same troops to stop them fleeing to Britain.

Instead of knee-jerk militarism, we need real, grown-up policies that tackle the root causes of global problems. This plan will do nothing to address the threats that we really face, such as price rises, poverty, health crises and the climate emergency.”


The Peace Pledge Union is a collection of people who have pledged to reject war to and tackle its causes. We are the British section of War Resisters’ International. Join us here!