More than 10,000 illegal migrants have crossed Channel so far this year, GB News reveals

Migrants in Dover

More than 10,000 illegal migrants have crossed Channel so far this year, GB News reveals

Mark White

By Mark White

Published: 24/05/2024

- 12:43

Updated: 24/05/2024

- 19:42

The threshold was crossed after 207 more arrived today

More than 10,000 Channel migrants have crossed illegally to the UK so far this year, GB News can exclusively reveal.

The milestone figure was reached today after another 207 people arrived in Dover, having crossed in four small boats throughout the day.

The latest arrivals will be a blow to Rishi Sunak on his second full day of election campaigning after he promised his government would stop the boats.

But although thousands more are likely to arrive in the six weeks before the election on 4 July, an early election will mean the Tories avoid the worst of the "summer surge", when up to a thousand people can arrive in a single day.

UK border craft entering Dover with fresh migrants

UK border craft entering Dover with fresh migrants

GB News

The number of small boat migrants reaching the UK is 35 per cent higher than the figure reached at this time last year.

By 24 May 2023, 7,395 had crossed from France, 2,694 fewer than this year.

The 10,000 arrivals mark has also been reached a month ahead of when that landmark figure was crossed last year.

Three days of poor weather conditions in the English Channel this week have prevented small boat crossings since eight migrants arrived on Monday.

UK border force vessel arrives carrying 10,000th arrivals

UK border force vessel arrives carrying 10,000th illegal migrant arrivals

GB News

Today, the first migrant boat was spotted heading for UK waters at first light.

Four hours later, an RNLI lifeboat brought 43 migrants from that dinghy to the main Border Force processing centre at Dover Harbour.

Two hours later, the Border Force vessel Defender arrived in Dover with another 45 migrants.

The third small boat load arrived in Dover aboard the Border Force vessel Volunteer just after midday when 66 people were counted disembarking that vessel.

The fourth arrived this evening - this time, with the Border Force vessel Typhoon ferrying 53 migrants into port.

Migrants being led off shipA group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vesselPA

Today’s arrivals take the number of small boat migrants who have made the illegal crossing since 1 January to 10,089.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The unacceptable number of people who continue to cross the Channel demonstrates exactly why we must get flights to Rwanda off the ground as soon as possible.

“We continue to work closely with French police, who are facing increasing violence and disruption on their beaches as they work tirelessly to prevent these dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys.

“Last year they stopped 26,000 people from reaching our shores.”

Although the Home has emphasised the need to get flights off to Rwanda, the Prime Minister has indicated that will not now happen before the election.

In a round of media interviews on Thursday, Rishi Sunak said the “groundwork had been done” to prepare for the flights, and committed to getting the planes in the air if his government was re-elected.

The Labour Party seized on those comments, claiming it showed the Rwanda plan had been a “con from start to finish.”

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “With all the hundreds of millions they have spent, it would be extraordinary if ‘symbolic flights’ didn’t take off in early July, as the Tories planned.

“But Rishi Sunak’s words confirm what we’ve known all along - he doesn’t believe this plan will work.”

Stephen Kinnock MP, Labour's Shadow Immigration Minister, responding to the reports that more than 10,000 people have now crossed the Channel in small boats so far this year, said: “This is the first time that more than 10,000 people have crossed the Channel in small boats before the end of May, with over a third more people making the crossing this year than last.

“Far from stopping the boats, Rishi Sunak is presiding over the worst year we have seen since the start of this crisis.

“Because all the government's efforts are now focused on getting a few hundred people flown to Rwanda, they have lost sight of the thousands more who are crossing the Channel every month, and allowed the smuggling gangs responsible for that traffic to carry on acting with impunity.

“If a Labour government is elected on 4th July, we will take the action required to tackle this chaos. Our new Border Security Command will put to work hundreds of new specialist investigators, officers and prosecutors, using tough new counter-terror powers to smash the smuggling gangs.”

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