James Heappey – 2022 Statement on Small Boats Migration

The statement made by James Heappey, the Minister for the Armed Forces, in the House of Commons on 19 April 2022.

The Prime Minister announced on 14 April 2022 that the Ministry of Defence has commenced primacy for this Government’s operational response to small boat migration in the English channel. This follows months of close collaboration between Departments and partners to establish operational plans and detailed working arrangements. The details for Operation ISOTROPE—including responsibilities, governance and financial arrangements—have been agreed with the Home Office and will operate until 31 January 2023. This surge in Defence support will assist the Border Force in optimising existing processes, assets and expertise to bring small boat numbers under manageable levels, enabling continued public confidence in this Government’s response during a particularly challenging period.

Operation ISOTROPE will respond to the circumstances of attempted migrant flows in the months ahead. Initially, the Government have provided Defence with an additional £50 million of funding which will be used to enhance a number of surface and surveillance capabilities and optimise existing process and infrastructure. This will enable the MOD to monitor and manage migrants attempting this perilous journey and, alongside the Border Force, ensure that those arriving on UK shores do so safely and can then be passed promptly into the Home Office immigration system for appropriate processing. Overall responsibility for managing borders and immigration is not impacted by this announcement and remains with the Home Office.