MPs have voted down a bid by parliament’s human rights committee to make it illegal for immigration officers to attempt to “push back” migrant boats in the English Channel in a way which would endanger lives.
The pushback proposal, which would involve Border Force boats physically turning back dinghies heading from France to the UK, is one of a set of hardline measures in Priti Patel’s Nationality and Borders Bill designed to make it tougher for asylum seekers to make their claims in Britain.
Efforts by MPs to tone down the bill failed on Tuesday evening, and it is now set to complete its passage through the House of Commons on Wednesday.
An amendment banning the use of maritime enforcement powers “in a manner that would endanger lives at sea”, tabled by the chair of the human rights committee Harriet Harman, was defeated by a margin of 235 votes to 313.
And MPs rejected by 233-318 a second amendment which would have stopped Ms Patel from prosecuting and jailing for up to four years refugees who arrive in the UK by illicit means.
Other amendments were not put to a vote, including calls for safe routes for asylum seekers to reach the UK or to create a new “humanitarian visa” allowing them to enter Britain from France for the purpose of having their claims processed.
After clearing the Commons on Wednesday, the controversial bill – which also includes new powers to strip individuals of their British nationality without informing them – faces further challenge in the House of Lords.