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More than 100 more migrants land in Dover as Rishi Sunak threatens to send in the Royal Navy

Almost 4,000 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK so far this year, according to analysis of Border Force figures.

This is thought to be more than double the total for the whole of 2019 where fewer than 2,000 are believed to have arrived in the country.

On current trends, around 7,500 migrants will cross the Channel by the end of the year, according to an analysis of official figures by Migrationwatch.

This would be nearly four times the 1,892 that entered the UK via the crossing in the whole of 2019, the campaign group projected.  

More than 130 migrants , many young children, aboard 13 boats landed in Dover today as ministers threatened to send in the Royal Navy to help turn back the ‘tide’ of boats.

Border Force continues to deal with “a number of ongoing incidents”, the Home Office said.

A full breakdown of crossings and numbers is not yet available, their spokesman added. 

The Home Secretary’s spokesman said the ‘fantastic weather’ was behind the surge despite ongoing efforts to prevent them while Immigration Minister Chris Philp said he shares ‘the anger and frustration of the public’ at the ‘appalling number’ of crossings.

Mr Philp is to visit France next week to speak with counterparts following a ‘constructive’ meeting with the country’s deputy ambassador earlier this week.

The fleet of dinghies included a girl aged around eight, another about 10, as well as at least five large groups of adults in the Kent town.

The children, some too young to walk, were picked up by the Border Force vessel Hunter and taken into a white tent at the marina at 12.15pm.

Some of the adults – who appeared mainly to be men – carried their possessions in plastic bags before they were processed.

Rishi Sunak today promised swift action to turn back the ‘tide’ of migrant boats heading for the UK from France as he refused to rule out using the Royal Navy.

The Chancellor said people were right to be ‘frustrated’ the day after 235 migrants in 17 vessels made the perilous crossing – the highest daily total since the crisis began.

The figure, which surpasses the previous record of 202 set last Thursday, prompted officials to draw up plans where for the first time the Navy could turn back boats.

The number who have reached Britain so far this year is now already double the total who arrived in the whole of 2019.

Dover Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said it was ‘absolutely essential’ to stop the continued migrant crossings and said ‘all options need to be on the table’ to keep them from arriving from France, including the Navy.

‘Putting an end to the small boats crossings crisis will only happen when migrants and traffickers alike know that they won’t succeed in breaking Britain in this way,’ she said.

‘For me that has three parts: firstly making sure that the boats don’t leave France in the first place, if they do leave French shores that they’re picked up early, and returned immediately to France and if people do break into our country and arrive on our shores that they are turned back to France.’

Asked about speculation that Home Secretary Priti Patel was considering drafting in the Navy, Ms Elphicke said: ‘There’s some discussion about the Navy, and what I’d say is that as we’ve gone into this record number of people crossing over this year all options need to be on the table.

‘But whoever it is that’s involved what we must make sure is that boats are deployed not to bring people into this country but to return them to France and for the French to do more to make sure that those boats don’t leave in the first place.’

Among today’s illegal arrivals there was a group of 12 men in their 20s, who were on a small vessel intercepted by Border Force officers.

They were given face masks and were seen being bundled into a bus at around 10.30am.

Two dinghies carrying a total of around 20 migrants were also picked up off the coast shortly before 12pm.

Meanwhile Border Force workers had to rush to save a group of 17 migrants whose boat broke down in front of the White Cliffs of Dover.

A further nine men were seen leaving Hunter at 12.50pm wearing life jackets as authorities wore white masks to escort them to a coach.

And seven more male refugees were brought into the harbour on the vessel Speedwell at 1.30pm.

A Coastguard spokesman said: ‘HM Coastguard is today coordinating search and rescue responses to a number of incidents off Kent, working with Border Force and other partners.

‘We are committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country.

‘HM Coastguard is only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.’

Speaking on a visit to Scotland earlier today, Mr Sunak said: ‘I think people are absolutely right to be frustrated at the scenes they’re seeing. 

‘I’m frustrated, everyone is, which is why we’ve been working much more closely with the French government in recent time to improve our co-operation and intelligence-sharing to police crossings.

‘The immigration minister will be visiting France again, I believe next week, to discuss how we can step up that co-operation and take further action, further measures and stronger measures as required to stop and reduce the tide of boats coming.’

Asked about reports the Navy will be used, he said: ‘I wouldn’t want to speculate on exactly what measures will be put in place.

‘It’s important that we work closely with our French allies on this situation.

‘Obviously France is a safe country for migrants to be. We all want to see these crossings reduced and, pending the outcomes of those conversations, we can decide on the best next steps to take.’ 

Ms Elphicke, whose husband Charlie was convicted of sex attacks last month, said the UK has an ‘incredibly important’ role in humanitarian and asylum issues.

She added: ‘What I don’t agree with is that we should be encouraging or allowing illegal people trafficking that actually preys on some of the most vulnerable people and puts them at risk of their very lives.

‘What we’ve seen here in Kent, here in Dover and Deal, is we’ve seen an unacceptable situation of small boats actually arriving at the beaches, of people getting off those boats and roaming round the area and that’s very, very worrying and concerning for local residents.’

A ‘furious’ Home Secretary last night backed plans for the Senior Service to patrol the  English Channel.

Nearly 3,950 migrants made the crossing in small boats in the first 219 days of 2020 – compared with 1,850 last year.

The crisis is a personal blow for Ms Patel, who made a pledge last October that crossings would be virtually eliminated by now.

A Home Office source said: ‘The final straw was this record number, which led the Home Secretary to demand this new initiative. The real solution must come from the French – we want the French to take them back.’ 

Last night sources said Navy vessels could now begin turning migrant boats back to France in a major escalation of tactics.

Mrs Patel has told MPs she has obtained legal advice that such a move would be legal under international maritime law.

But the tactic would be highly controversial and risk alienating the French government, which has told Britain it believes it to be illegal.

Other emergency measures being considered by the Home Office include using Navy vessels to block the path of migrant boats.

It is understood smaller military craft would be used, rather than larger vessels such as frigates or destroyers. The Royal Marines could play a key role, sources said. 

British forces could also use nets to entangle propellers or floating ‘booms’ to block the way for migrants dinghies.

Both methods were tested in secret trials in May and June involving Navy ships and Border Force boats.

A Government source said: ‘These are all options that are being considered. The Home Secretary is furious about this daily total, which we think is as high as 250.’

It is now understood the figure is 235, according to the BBC. 

The source added: ‘She has instructed her officials to speak to the Ministry of Defence about how we can proceed. She has also requested a discussion with the French interior minister, Gerald Darmanin.’

Civil servants from both departments have conducted initial talks and the Home Secretary may follow these up with a formal request for assistance from the Ministry of Defence. 

Yesterday’s arrivals included at least ten young children and a heavily-pregnant woman, who were aboard a boat which landed on Dungeness beach in Kent.

One of the children, a boy aged around four, looked exhausted as he lay back on the pebble beach with his arms spread out. The heavily-pregnant woman was wearing a black dress and face mask as she held the hand of a child.

She looked weary and had her head in her hand at one point, after being picked up by a lifeboat.

Amateur photographer Susan Pilcher, who saw the group on the beach, said: ‘I could hear the Border Force workers asking the woman how many months pregnant she was, and she replied ‘eight’.

Mrs Pilcher added: ‘When you think she’s doing such a risky crossing over the Channel when she’s heavily pregnant, that says how much they’ve been through.’

A British patrol boat also towed a kayak into the Port of Dover yesterday.

The Home Secretary has said she wants ‘stronger enforcement’ on the other side of the Channel and has been trying to persuade the French government to allow migrant boats to be turned back. 

She said last year that a previous deal with the French would make crossings an ‘infrequent phenomenon’ by this spring.

It came as an inquiry was launched into the crisis by the Commons all-party home affairs committee.

MPs will begin their investigation when Parliament returns at the start of September.

A committee spokesman said: ‘The inquiry will look at the role of criminal gangs in facilitating the growth of this form of illegal immigration and the response of UK and French authorities to combat illegal migration and support legal routes to asylum.’

Three migrants were rescued from their sinking inflatable kayak by a builder on his way home to Britain after swimming from Dover to Calais for charity today.

Justin Legge, 49, started the 21-mile journey at 1.30am, raising almost £24,000 in memory of a friend who died of leukaemia.

He was on his way back across the Channel in a small passenger boat when he spotted three young men stuffed on to a tiny inflatable blue and white two-person Sevylor Wabash canoe-kayak which was sinking around 3.30pm.

The migrants’ inflatable kayak, which sells for £299.99 on Decathlon’s website, was brought in by the Border Force vessel Hunter.

It comes after it was reported authorities were involved in the rescue of more than 120 migrants in small boats that took the dangerous crossing this morning. 

A baby, a heavily-pregnant woman and young children were among the migrants to land on Kent beach earlier today as smugglers tell them to make dangerous Channel crossing before Brexit ‘closes the door’. 

The migrants spotted by Justin were using their T-shirts to wave for help and were rapidly sinking around 10 miles off Dover.

The pilot of Justin’s boat gave them water and face masks before taking them in.

A crowd of family and friends waving Union Jack flags were eagerly waiting for the boat, but it was first diverted to hand the three men over to Border Force officials at the marina shortly before 4pm.

Father-of-two Justin, from the village of Bridge near Canterbury, Kent, said: ‘I’ve just swam the Channel and I’m absolutely knackered.

‘Then we saw this dodgy cheap-looking little kayak and they were really sinking.

‘We approached them and the pilot was really good. He gave them some water and decided to take them on board because if he left them, they would have drowned.

‘They were a really long way out – around 10 miles. So he phoned the authorities and brought them back in. They’re lucky to still be alive.

‘The three of them sat on the edge of the boat for the rest of the ride back.

‘One of the guys was watching them but they just sat there quietly and looked a bit embarrassed.

‘It was very strange. I know these sorts of crossings are a daily occurrence now but I never thought I’d see something like that first hand.’

His wedding planner wife Charlotte, 35, was also on the boat.

She said: ‘We were halfway across the Channel and our pilot spotted them.

‘They’re constantly looking for migrants and he noticed they were waving the flag of distress.

‘He rang the Coastguard and they said he had a duty of care to stay by them until they were rescued.

‘But while we were giving them water, we noticed they were going down.

‘The Coastguard were nowhere to be seen so the pilot put them on the end of the boat, gave them masks and gloves, and towed their boat back to shore.

‘The pilot was quite concerned because they kept trying to get back into their boat but they had what looked like brand new trainers in there so maybe they just wanted to save them.

‘All three of them just sat there quietly and looked quite tired. They all looked really young. Probably aged between 18 and 21.’

Earlier today, a group of around 16 refugees including 10 young children landed on Dungeness beach in Kent at around 8.30am, and a further cluster of migrants were pictured being rescued at nearby Dover.

A further three were later brought into the town’s marina by a small white passenger boat carrying a charity swimmer at 4pm.

In total, 3,643 migrants have made the life-risking Channel crossing this year, nearly double the 1,850-odd who arrived in the whole of last year.

Last Thursday, a single-day record of 202 people in 20 boats landed.


Standing on a hill above Calais, with Dover’s White Cliffs sparkling in the sun 21 miles away was the moment it finally dawned on me that Britain was losing control of its borders.

In the French ferry port below, 1,100 migrants were waiting to cross the Channel to the UK. Mingling among them were shadowy trafficking gangsters, many from British cities, eagerly taking their cash in return for a journey to a new life.

That was nearly two decades ago, and I was in the French port to show how easy it was to slip undercover by truck into this country.

The same evening, a driver from my home county of Lancashire agreed to put me in the back of his lorry. We passed unquestioned through customs and security checks on to a ferry and four hours later reached Dover.

The only startling moment came when I emerged on to English soil and heard a desperate banging from back inside the lorry.

Unbeknown to the driver, Adel, from Iraq, was already secretly stowed inside the vehicle when I climbed in. He’d crept in as the driver was parked up having a tea break in Calais and had lain flat on top of a pallet of lawn mowers high above me.

Now, the vehicle had stopped and he wanted to get out. When the driver opened the back doors, Adel told me his name and where he was from. His English was poor but he did say politely ‘I am so sorry’ to us before disappearing into the darkness.

In those days, only a few dozen migrants were getting through to the UK each week as lorry stowaways.

A crackdown by the then Home Secretary David Blunkett – he had recently closed a Red Cross refuge centre giving food, clothing and a bed to migrants near the port – had certainly had the desired effect.

Numbers arriving from faraway countries, dreaming of reaching the El Dorado of England, fell sharply along with the people smugglers who suddenly had fewer customers.

Today, the smugglers are still in business, transporting migrants with near impunity across the Channel for a fee of £4,000 a head on a daily basis.

Indeed, since my undercover lorry journey, I’ve crossed from France – without passport or security checks on arrival in the UK – many times to demonstrate how dangerously porous our borders are.

I’ve come in by hired private plane, under a blanket in a private car, and, in September 2016, across the Channel in a small rigid inflatable boat with an outboard motor.

On Thursday this week, 235 migrants made it to the Kent coast, the highest daily total of boat arrivals to date.

Thousands more will come by sea this year as ministers struggle to address a problem that has been ignored since Blunkett’s intervention. The truth is that successive governments have allowed traffickers to gain the upper hand.

Today they operate in the knowledge that little vessels, once pushed out to sea from a Calais beach, have a near 100 per cent chance of reaching the UK.

Of course the French are only too happy to see them go. Recent TV clips have revealed the French Navy escorting boats to the middle of the Channel where the British Border Force and even our RNLI lifeboat services – take over the job. They take migrants on board and bring them into Dover. Such a farce leaves the traffickers rubbing their hands with glee.

They have networks reaching back to south of the Equator. Their agents go to the tea houses, to the little villages of impoverished families in Iraq, Iran, Africa, Pakistan, even the still troubled Balkan states, drumming up business with the sales pitch: ‘Your son deserves a better life in England. Let us help him on his journey.’

Falling for their promises of a better life, loving family members beggar themselves raising the money for the ‘fee’ or agree to pay it off later. They know that if the debt is not repaid they can expect a knock on the door one dark night from a local trafficking agent with links to a greedy British gang.

Ultimately these are treacherous criminals who are peddling false hopes of British largesse, huge benefits, a house, free education, medical care…

All over Britain today, there are thousands of their victims in pitiful accommodation, receiving a Home Office stipend of only a few pounds a day as pocket money. Many speak no English and have few skills for a decent job. They grow disappointed and angry when they can’t join British society.

And so they turn to immigration lawyers to fight their endless asylum claims lasting years and financed by legal aid. Even those refused sanctuary rarely leave the country, but evaporate into the black market of sweat shops, human slavery, or worse.

It may sound harsh, but the bitter truth is that to bring this to an end we must convince these young men, as most of them are, to stop journeying across the world for a pointless life with no hope or work in one of our troubled inner cities.

We must launch our own propaganda drive faraway, particularly among village elders, community leaders, in places of worship, that Britain has nothing to offer. As one Iranian migrant in the Midlands told me recently: ‘I have been welcomed in to hell.’

Meanwhile there’s nothing to alleviate the lingering fear that among this summer migration there could be those who want to harm us: returning IS fighters, spies from hostile nations hoping to embed themselves here, would-be terrorists and criminals escaping justice abroad.

Looking at Thursday’s images of the traffickers’ latest cohort – including small children and a pregnant woman – I hope the penny will drop in high places as it did for me so many years ago. By yesterday evening another 17 boats carrying 150 migrants reached Britain from France.

By the time you read this, there may be even more still.

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