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Boris Johnson's plan to put the military in charge of tackling migrant boat crossings will help people smugglers, the former head of the royal navy has warned.

Lord West said : "This will not stop the migrant crisis.

We don't have an agreement with France to give them back yet."

A Whitehall source told the newspaper : "It is not an estimate or a forecast.

It's about how things work out on the other side of the Channel.

Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said "No.

but defence select committee chairman tobias ellwood criticised the plans were "rushed" and a "massive distraction" for the military.

“ this isn't what our navy should be doing."

The Labour peer told BBC Radio 4's World At One programme : "I don ’ t think it makes any difference really to the problem of more coming across.

The armed forces are set to take charge of operations looking to limit migrant crossings in the English Channel.

rear admiral mike utley, commander of the uk strike force, has been appointed to co-ordinate the plans.

Responding to the plans, CEO of the Refugee Council Enver Solomon described them as "cruel and inhumane".

A spokesperson for the MoD said that "unacceptable numbers of people continue to make the dangerous Channel crossings and last November's tragic deaths serve as the strongest reminder of the need to stop them".

the spokesperson added : "the government is exploring every avenue to prevent further crossings and details of how that can be achieved will be made known in due course."

In March last year, Ms Patel set out plans to overhaul the way people applying for asylum in the UK are treated.

The Home Office is right to reject it.

But the plans, first reported in the Times, could see Prime Minister Boris Johnson give the navy authority over government vessels in the channel.

However, putting a rear admiral in charge of operations in the Channel is unlikely to make much difference.

The Royal Navy may be able to provide better intelligence on where inflatables and dinghies are expected to make landfall, but the great majority of those coming to seek sanctuary in Britain are already intercepted before they reach the coast.

Migrant arrival facilities in Kent are currently being expanded.

The Labour MP said the government had brought the navy in to patrol the Channel in 2019 but the two vessels used had intercepted no boats and had cost the government £780,000.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said unacceptable numbers continued to cross and the government was exploring every avenue to stop them.

Human rights lawyers warned they would be unlawful because they ignored Britain's international obligations.

No 10 policy bosses have explored the use of powerful sonic weapons to force migrants to turn around in the English Channel, amid a growing row over how to handle the situation.

The Long-Range Acoustic Devices ( LRAD ) are already installed on two Border Force vessels but are used to issue voice commands.

They were purchased by the Ministry of Defence for use as loud-speakers during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

It comes amid a growing blame game over a failure to stop people from crossing the Channel in small boats, despite repeated policy announcements and pledges to get a grip.

The French government has said such a plan would be illegal and it would not accept migrants being returned to its water in this way.

Sky News has been told that the prime minister vented his frustration at Home Secretary Priti Patel in a meeting at the end of last year after nearly 30 people died in one crossing in late November.

Currently 'no plans' to use devices A spokesperson for the department said there are currently "no plans" to use the sonic devices to deter migrants, but added : "As part of our ongoing operational response and to prevent further loss of life at sea, we continue to test a range of safe and legal options to stop small boats making this dangerous and unnecessary journey."

Trying to solve the small boats refugee crisis is a rather different kind of challenge.

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