Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
alert-–-nearly-800-migrants-cross-the-channel-over-easter-weekend-to-push-this-year’s-total-past-5,000-and-heap-more-pressure-on-rishi-sunak-over-his-‘stop-the-boats’-pledgeAlert – Nearly 800 migrants cross the Channel over Easter weekend to push this year’s total past 5,000 and heap more pressure on Rishi Sunak over his ‘stop the boats’ pledge

Nearly 800 migrants crossed the Channel over the Easter weekend to push this year’s total past 5,000 and heap more pressure on Rishi Sunak.

The Prime Minister’s pledge to ‘stop the boats’ has come under increasing scrutiny with record numbers making the dangerous journey in dinghies in the first three months of this year. 

Home Office data showed 349 people crossed the Channel from France to England in seven boats on Saturday, with another 442 in nine boats making the journey 24 hours later on Easter Sunday. 

It means a total of 791 migrants made the crossing on the two days alone, bringing this year’s total to 5,435. 

Border Force catamarans Ranger and Defender brought scores of people to shore into the Port of Dover on Saturday. 

Border Force catamarans Ranger and Defender brought scores of people to shore into the Port of Dover on Easter Saturday

Border Force catamarans Ranger and Defender brought scores of people to shore into the Port of Dover on Easter Saturday

One group, all wearing red life jackets, were seen being escorted off the boat and walked along the gangway to the immigration processing centre

One group, all wearing red life jackets, were seen being escorted off the boat and walked along the gangway to the immigration processing centre

One group, all wearing red life jackets, were seen being escorted off the boat and walked along the gangway to the immigration processing centre at the former jetfoil terminal at the Western Docks. 

On Saturday 349 people were intercepted in the Dover Straits in seven inflatables with French authorities rescued 55 people after one inflatable got into difficulty off the coast at Dunkirk.

READ MORE: More than 40,000 Channel migrants have arrived in Britain since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister – as video shows dozens of asylum seekers crammed onto tiny dinghy

A further 20 were taken off another dinghy and brought back into Calais while a reportedly stolen sailing boat with three migrants on board was also intercepted and brought back into the French port on the same day.

More than 2,000 migrants, many of whom were intercepted by Border Force patrols during the perilous crossing of the 21-mile wide Dover Straits, have been brought ashore in March alone.

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.

‘We remain committed to building on the successes that saw arrivals drop by more than a third last year, including tougher legislation and agreements with international partners, in order to save lives and stop the boats.’

A key plank of the strategy is the scheme to send small boat arrivals to Rwanda, but the legislation to implement that plan was not passed before Easter because peers inflicted a series of defeats on the Government and ministers did not seek to rush it through before Parliament’s recess.

It will now be considered by MPs when Parliament resumes on April 15, with the Commons likely to undo the latest changes made by the Lords and send it back to the upper chamber.

A total of 791 migrants made the crossing on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, bringing this year's total to 5,435

A total of 791 migrants made the crossing on Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday, bringing this year’s total to 5,435

More than 2,000 migrants, many of whom were intercepted by Border Force patrols during the perilous crossing of the 21-mile wide Dover Straits, have been brought ashore in March alone (Migrants on board a Border Force vessel are brought to shore on Saturday)

More than 2,000 migrants, many of whom were intercepted by Border Force patrols during the perilous crossing of the 21-mile wide Dover Straits, have been brought ashore in March alone (Migrants on board a Border Force vessel are brought to shore on Saturday)

So far this year, 114 boats have been detected making the crossing, with an average of more than 47 people on each craft.

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said: ‘A year which started with Rishi Sunak and James Cleverly boasting about the success of their small boats strategy is now setting one unwanted record after another for the number of arrivals.

‘Their complacency has been laid bare, and their pledge to stop the boats has been left in tatters.

‘We can also see from these figures that there is a major tragedy waiting to happen in the Channel.

‘Poor-quality, overcrowded dinghies are putting to sea and getting into trouble early in their journeys, while the smuggling gangs responsible are left to count their profits.

‘Enough is enough. If the Tories will not get tough on that traffic, then we need a Labour government that will.’