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Channel crossings: 100,000 since 2018 and new daily record set for 2023

PA News

Migrant crossings reached the highest number in a single day for the year so far as figures confirmed over 100,000 people have made the journey in the past five years.

Since current records began on January 1 2018, 100,715 migrants have arrived in the UK after making the journey, according to analysis of Government data by the PA news agency.

The milestone was reached after 755 people crossed the Channel in 14 boats on Thursday. This is the highest daily number so far this year and suggests an average of around 54 people per boat.

The previous high for 2023 was 686 people on July 7.

The numbers were recorded as a major search and rescue operation was launched after 17 migrants went overboard and were pulled from the water. The Home Office said they were all taken ashore for medical checks.

Meanwhile, Border Force reportedly suffered a double blow as one of its cutters broke down in the early hours of the morning and a £400,000 drone used to monitor activity in the Channel crashed into the sea.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said only Labour has a “serious plan to crack down on criminal smuggler gangs”.

Commenting on the numbers recorded, she said: “The criminal gangs who profit from undermining our border security and putting lives at risk have continued to run rings around this Government, with their profits soaring from £1 million a few years ago to over £200 million today, while convictions have collapsed.

“After years of empty pledges and broken promises, the Tories’ asylum chaos is just getting worse and worse. They cannot be trusted to get a grip. Only Labour has a serious plan to crack down on criminal smuggler gangs, tackle dangerous boat crossings, clear the asylum backlog and end hotel use by speeding up decisions and fast-tracking cases from safe countries.”

The crossings come just weeks after sweeping asylum reforms became law and while the Government fends off legal challenges in the courts over its Rwanda deal and decisions to house migrants on former military sites in Essex and Lincolnshire.

Crossings have increased since then-home secretary Sajid Javid declared a major incident amid the unfolding Channel crisis in 2018 (Gareth Fuller/PA)
Crossings have increased since then-home secretary Sajid Javid declared a major incident amid the unfolding Channel crisis in 2018 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Meanwhile, asylum seekers were finally moved onto the Bibby Stockholm barge on the Dorset coast after the plans were beset by delays.

The much-criticised Illegal Migration Act, central to the Prime Minister’s pledge to “stop the boats” crossing the Channel, will prevent people from claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means.

Officials are still working on when the legislation will come into force, and it is anticipated elements of the new laws may be implemented in stages over the coming months.

So far this year 15,826 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel, provisional Home Office figures show. This is around 15% below the numbers being recorded this time last year.

More than 18,600 people had made the crossing by August 10, 2022.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

A record 45,755 people made the journey last year. That was 60% up on the 28,526 recorded for the whole of 2021, but lower than the 60,000 officials previously estimated could make the journey during that year.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel has steadily increased since 299 people were detected in 2018.

In December that year then-home secretary Sajid Javid cut short a Christmas break to return to the UK and take charge of the unfolding crisis.

He declared a “major incident” in the wake of 40 migrants making the journey on Christmas Day and 12 more arriving days later.

There were 1,843 crossings recorded in 2019 and 8,466 in 2020, according to the Home Office.

August last year was the highest month on record for crossings when 8,631 people arrived in the UK after making the journey.

August 2022 also saw a record 1,295 migrants crossing in a single day on 27 boats. This is still the highest daily figure recorded since 2018.

Splits at the top of the Conservative Party over whether to remain in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) have come to the fore in recent days, with growing clamour among right-wing MPs to leave the international accord as part of efforts to tackle the migrant crisis.

More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK in the last five years (Gareth Fuller/PA)
More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK in the last five years (Gareth Fuller/PA)

It comes after immigration minister Robert Jenrick, a close ally of Rishi Sunak, hinted earlier this week that the Government could pull out of the agreement.

Treasury minister John Glen, asked on LBC for his view, said he did not want to leave the convention as he believed “in the plan that we’ve got in place”.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who has been tipped to replace Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary during the next Cabinet reshuffle, said he remained confident in “plan A” of sending migrants to Rwanda.

Mr Sunak made stopping the boats one of his top five priorities ahead of next year’s anticipated general election. But the 100,000 milestone appears to have reignited the row in his party about how to curb crossings.

Tory Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson said he was “very angry” about the arrivals figure, telling GB News the Government may have to take “drastic measures” and leave the ECHR.

Miriam Cates, a member of the New Conservatives group of Tory MPs elected since the Brexit referendum, said the ECHR had come to represent a threat to British democracy.

Writing for the Daily Telegraph, the rising star on the right of the party said the international accord was “now at risk of preventing governments from protecting their own citizens” as she warned that a failure to tackle uncontrolled mass migration would have “severe” consequences.

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