Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Border force intercept 13 boats carrying 130 migrants across English Channel

The Home Office says Border force has intercepted 13 vessels carrying over 130 migrants across the English Channel today.

It comes after a record breaking day on Thursday, when 235 migrants landed in Kent after making the perilous journey from France.

Minister for Immigration Chris Philp branded the crossings ‘totally unacceptable and unnecessary.’

He said the government intends to return as many migrants as possible, revealing flights have been planned for the coming days.

‘We will also continue to go after the heinous criminals and organised crime networks putting people’s lives at risk. Twenty-two people smugglers have been jailed this year and two more were charged last weekend,’ he said.

Numbers arriving in the UK by small boats have increased in recent weeks, with more than 1,100 crossing the English Channel in July alone.

Authorities are said to be bracing themselves for more incidents as weather conditions between France and England improve over the next few days.

Mr Philip said he will be in Paris next week to speak to French authorities about imposing stronger measures on interceptions and returns.

‘This situation simply cannot go on,’ he continued.

‘We have to make the route completely unviable. Then migrants will have no incentive to come to northern France or attempt the crossing in the first place.’

Yesterday saw a women who was eight months pregnant and several small children, including a baby, make it onto UK soil. Several groups were pictured arriving in dinghys and kayaks.

Home Secretary Priti Patel, who previously vowed to crack down on migrants making the treacherous crossing from France, is said to be ‘furious’ and is drafting up plans for the Royal Navy to intervene.

A Ministry of Defence source dismissed the use of navy personnel, telling the PA news agency it would be ‘completely potty’ and the idea had ‘more holes in it than a slice of Swiss cheese’.

But Chancellor Rishi Sunak did not deny reports the Navy could be deployed to stem the flow, admitting he had become ‘frustrated’ with the arrivals in an interview with Sky News this morning.

Priti Patel’s spokesman also confirmed to Sky that it was an option being considered.

The Home Office said French officials prevented a small number from crossing the channel today.

Authorities in France have previously told Sky News migrants often refuse to climb onboard French vessels and threaten to jump into the sea, leaving patrol boats little choice but to simply shadow the migrants until they reach British territorial waters.

Human rights charity Detention Action accused the government of ‘losing control’ of the situation.

Director Bella Sankey urged the government to take a more compassionate approach instead of ‘grandstanding’ with tough measures.

‘What is needed is recognition that people who reach France will have valid claims to protection in the UK and the urgent development of safe and legal routes for them to do so,’ she said. ‘This would end the crossings overnight and ensure we are standing by our age-old tradition of protecting those seeking sanctuary on our shores.’

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