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Record arrivals see migrant Channel crossings top 12,000 for year so far

20 Jun 2024 5 minute read
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at press conference in response to the Supreme Court ruling that the Rwanda asylum policy is unlawful. Leon Neal/PA Wire

More than 800 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel in a single day – a new record for the year so far.

The Home Office said 882 people made the journey in 15 boats on Tuesday, suggesting an average of 59 people per boat.

The latest crossings take the provisional total for the number of arrivals so far this year to 12,313.

This is 18% higher than this time last year when 10,472 crossings were recorded, and up 5% on the total at this stage in 2022 (11,690), according to PA news agency analysis of Government figures.


Last year, 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

Tuesday’s crossings are the highest daily number of arrivals recorded since November 29 2022, when 947 people made the journey.

The highest single day total on record for Channel crossings since 2018 was reached on September 3, 2022 when 1,305 migrants arrived in the UK.

More than 2,000 arrivals have now been recorded since the General Election was called on May 22 (2,431), with immigration a key campaign battleground.

In the last six-and-a-half years as the recent migrant crisis unfolded, 126,658 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel, data recorded since the start of 2018 shows.

Some 81,677 people have made the journey since the Government struck the stalled deal to send migrants to Rwanda in April 2022.

“Stop the boats”

The tally of crossings since Rishi Sunak, who pledged to “stop the boats”, became Prime Minister in October that year is almost 50,000, now standing at 49,376.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during a press conference in the Downing Street Briefing Room Photo James Manning/PA Wire

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock accused Mr Sunak of presiding over a failure to curb the numbers which is “far from stopping the boats” and insisted Labour has a “comprehensive plan” to tackle Channel crossings.

But the Prime Minister insisted the Conservatives “can make a difference”.

Asked why people should believe he is the right person to tackle the crossings crisis in light of the latest figures, Mr Sunak told broadcasters in East Anglia: “There is always going to be days which are worse than others, but the choice at this election is about how do we solve this problem for good.

“I have got a plan to do that and that is about getting a deterrent up and running, removing the incentive for people to come here.”

The figures also prompted repeat calls from charities for an overhaul of asylum policies.

Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s refugee and migrant rights director, said: “People who are fleeing conflict and persecution are forced to make the perilous sea crossing because they have no other option to reach safety.

“The next UK government needs to radically change their response to people seeking asylum, including making safe routes available for people with family and other connections here.”

Safe Passage International chief executive Wanda Wyporska said: “If the next government is serious about protecting refugee lives and tackling the smuggling gangs, it must prioritise opening safe routes and helping refugee families to reunite in safety here.”

Small boats and outboard motors thought to be used by migrants crossing the English Channel. Photo Gareth Fuller. PA Images

Deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats Daisy Cooper vowed the party would “reopen safe and legal routes” and suggested migrants could have certainty about their status when coming to the UK by making applications from abroad.

Speaking on a visit to Surrey, she told the PA news agency: “What we really need to see is safe and legal routes re-established because many of them were closed down, and that means around three-quarters of the people who are currently attempting to come here on small boats could actually apply from other countries and have their application dealt with in a safe way without them having to make that terrible, scary, risky journey.”

The figures come as the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union threatened more legal action over the Government’s multi-million pound bid to cut Channel crossings by sending migrants to Rwanda.

Lawyers at firm Duncan Lewis sent a pre-action letter to Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, on behalf of the union which represents civil servants, putting him on notice of a legal challenge if he tries to arrange for his department to help fly asylum seekers to the east African nation.

There have been suggestions the Ministry of Defence (MoD) could be brought in to operate the flights amid difficulties agreeing charters with commercial airlines.

But the PCS union believes this could be against the law and Mr Shapps may not have the legal power required to order the department to become involved.

If he does not respond to the letter within seven days, the union said it will seek a judicial review.

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24 days ago

Something the Brexiters should all be extremely proud of.
“We know what we’re voting for” was one of their favourites. Apart from the bit where France had an obligation to take back 45% of channel crossers, apparently.
The buck stops with the leave voters on this one, and there’s no wriggling out of it.

Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
24 days ago

Caption competition time again. ‘The penny drop moment when Rishi Sunak realises that repeating the line ‘stop the boats’ and standing behind a lectern showing the words ‘stop the boats’ has failed to stop the boats’.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
24 days ago

That’s money P&O missed out on…

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
24 days ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

Rishi Kilroy Sunak Was Here…under a ‘syrup’…

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