Number of English Channel Boat Migrant Crossings Hits Highest Single Day Total of the Year

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, by RNLI lifebo
Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images

The crisis in the English Channel reached another grim milestone on Saturday, with the number of boat migrant crossings hitting its highest level this year for a single day, as over 800 landed.

Despite claims from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that his feckless Conservative government’s policies have been “working” to stem the tide of illegals pouring over the Channel from France, the crisis seems to be escalating rather than abating.

According to figures published by the Home Office, some 872 migrants reached the UK on Saturday in 15 small boats launched by people smugglers on the coasts of France. This represents the highest total for any single day period of 2023.

The PA news agency noted that Saturday’s crossings surpassed the previous high on August 10th when 756 illegals made the perilous journey across the world’s busiest waterway. Saturday’s record number of migrants did fall short of the all time high set last year on August 22 when 1,295 arrived.

The latest small boat crossings take the total for the year to approximately 20,973, with 1,172 reaching the country over the past week, alone.  While this is down from last year, when around 25,000 migrants had reached the UK by this point of the year, it is still significantly higher than in 2021 when around 28,000 landed on British beaches during the entire year.

The escalation in pure numbers for the year has also coincided with the average number of migrants being crammed into small boats by people smugglers hitting a new high in August, according to PA news agency analysis. Last month saw 5,369 illegals successfully make the journey in 102 boats, meaning the average per boat was around 53, a new high since records began in 2018.

Despite the increase in numbers of illegals coming across the English Channel, the government has attempted to use the slight decrease in the total from last year as evidence that its policies have been “working”.

“This year for the first time the numbers of people crossing are lower than the year before. That hasn’t happened before. That shows that the plan is working. Of course, there’s more to do, but I want people to have confidence that we are on it, and we’ll keep going,” Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said earlier this week.

However, others have noted that the decrease from last year was more likely a result of poor weather conditions in the Channel over the past couple of months rather than any government policy.

Indeed, other than handing over another £500 million to the French to step up beach patrols against people smugglers, the government’s main deterrence policies — sending boat migrants to Rwanda to have their asylum claims processed or holding them in offshore barges — both remain inactive amid legal challenges.

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