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Two Cabinet ministers went to war today over who should pay for a Navy ship to patrol the Channel in an attempt to prevent migrants crossing in rubber dinghies.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid sparked a Whitehall battle by formally requesting military assistance amid a wave of crossings over Christmas.

But while Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson readily offered a Royal Navy vessel, HMS Mersey, bristling with hi-tech equipment, including advanced radar, a helicopter pad and fast interception boats, he ruled that the Home Office would have to pay a bill of £20,000 a day to cover costs.

Home Office sources then claimed the Ministry of Defence should supply its hardware and troops without charge, and pointed out that Mr Williamson had declared at the start of the “crisis” that the Armed Forces were “ready” to assist.

Officials from both departments were locked in discussions this morning, with sources from each claiming they were in the right.


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