Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One, he said: “This will not stop the migrant crisis. Picking them up at sea does not solve the problem of not giving them back.
“We don’t have an agreement with France to give them back yet.
“All you’re acting as is a very efficient conduit for people smugglers, with migrants being picked up nice and safely by a royal navy warship.”
Lord West added that although Navy involvement might prevent deaths it would do nothing to solve the wider issue of migration.
“I don’t think it makes any difference really to the problem of more coming across.
“Because if I was a people trafficker, I would say to them all, ‘Get in your little boat and go out there, the royal navy is now in control of all of the shipping that is looking out for you, you will be picked up and then you will be taken to Britain and then you’re pretty well on your way’.”
The decision to involve the military is thought to be among a series of “Operation Red Meat” measures.
This involves announcing a series of populist policies aimed at the core Tory support in order to improve the Prime Minister’s poor poll ratings.
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A team under Rear Admiral Mike Utley, has been put in charge of “Operation Isotrope” – which will determine the role the military may be able to make to deal with the migrant crossings.