OREANDA-NEWS The Royal Navy will be handing over operational control of the Channel migrant crisis back to UK Border Force officers, The Telegraph reported.Ministers are said to have been informed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of its plans to relinquish responsibility for dealing with illegal migrants on January 31. Government sources were cited as adding that the decision would go ahead “unless there are ministerial actions”.Operation Isotrope - a British military operation to assist the Border Force in responding to the uptick of English Channel migrant crossings was first announced in January 2021.

On January 16, 2022, it was reported that plans were being drawn up to place the Royal Navy in operational command of counter-migration operations, with the plans implemented in March. According to Defence Minister James Heappey’s statements at the time, Royal Navy vessels designated for the role were some of the Batch 1 River-class offshore patrol vessels and some smaller Archer-class patrol vessels.This April, Boris Johnson had touted his plan of giving the Royal Navy ?50million in new funding to co-ordinate Border Force and Coastguard boats to investigate and rescue migrants crossing the Channel from France into the UK. He promised the move would help ensure that “no boat makes it to the UK undetected”.The decision had raised many questions. Thus, former Border Force chief Vice Admiral Sir Charles Montgomery had voiced puzzlement over the Royal Navy’s leadership role, saying:Labour had declared it was a “PR-driven policy which is without any coherent detail, but also poses significant difficulties and has the real risk of reputational damage for the [Ministry of Defence] and the Royal Navy.”However, despite the measures, the number of migrant crossings has already doubled to more than 20,000 this year, government data shows. Ministers fear this year's number of small boat arrivals may surge beyond the record 28,500 witnessed in 2021.‘Folly Project’Critics of the original plan have lambasted the “folly project” for failing to stop the influx of migrants.“The Navy is being sucked into an operation they should never have been involved in. This is not their terrain – this is Home Office, Coastguard, Border Force terrain,” said Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defence committee.Tony Smith, an ex-Border Force director general added:Responding to reports of the Navy backing out of its migrant patrol role, Home Office were cited as voicing concerns.“The Navy would need to continue to be involved in some way… The operation is taken much more seriously now they are involved. We need to show illegal immigration is being taken seriously. What message would an ending of their involvement send to traffickers?” a source was cited as saying.Weighing in on the report, a source told the publication that original plan had presupposed a review of the Navy’s role by January 31.Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the MoD said: