Channel crossings top 5,000 for the year so far

Channel crossings top 5,000 for the year so far

More than 5,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year.

Home Office figures published on Tuesday confirmed the provisional total number of people making the journey to date in 2023 now stands at 5,049.

Some 113 migrants were detected in three boats on Monday, suggesting an average of around 38 people per boat.

A record 45,755 crossings were recorded in 2022.

The cumulative number of Channel crossings this year is currently running below the level for 2022.

At the equivalent point last year, the number of crossings stood at just over 6,300.

Downing Street said there was no “quick fix” to meet Rishi Sunak’s promise to stop the boats.

Cumulative arrivals by people crossing the English Channel in small boats
(PA Graphics)

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said it would require a “combination of a number of different approaches from the Government” to “solve this long-standing problem”.

It comes after Mr Sunak last week admitted that his plans to stop boats crossing the Channel “won’t happen overnight” and declined to promise they could be completed by the next general election.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the figures “show the full scale of the Tory failure to get any grip on Channel crossings”, adding: “All they offer is rhetoric and gimmicks instead of any kind of serious plan. No surprise that Rishi Sunak is rowing back on his promise to stop the boats this year.”

Nearly 45,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel since the Government signed the Rwanda deal just over a year ago.

Suella Braverman told of her “dream” of seeing the Government’s plan to send migrants to the east African nation succeed after she was appointed Home Secretary, a policy which High Court judges ruled is lawful but has so far been stalled by legal action.

Her predecessor Priti Patel signed the agreement – which she described as a “world-first” – with Rwanda on April 14 last year.

There were 44,976 migrants recorded arriving in the UK after crossing the Channel between April 15 2022 and April 17 2023, according to analysis of Government figures by the PA news agency.

In November, Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft confirmed Britain had already paid Rwanda £140 million under the deal but said he was still unsure whether the policy was value for money.

The battle over the legality of the policy continues, with a four-day hearing listed at the Court of Appeal next week.

Mr Sunak pledged to “stop the boats” as one of his five main priorities while in office.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “While we are confident that some of the elements already introduced – stepping up the partnership with the French government to increase intercepts in the Channel – is having an impact, we know that this will be an incremental approach.”

It was “too early to draw conclusions at this stage” about the impact of the Government’s announcements “given we know the impact the weather can have on weekly, even daily, crossings”.

“It will be the culmination of the introduction of all the different policies we are introducing which will have the long-lasting impact the public wants.”

Suella Braverman
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said it is her ‘dream’ to send illegal migrants to Rwanda (Lindsay Parnaby/PA)

In an interview with ConservativeHome on Thursday, Mr Sunak said he expects a legal battle over the “novel, untested” and “ambitious” Illegal Migration Bill, which is going through Parliament, and confirmed there “may well be” an interim judgment from the European Court of Human Rights against the policy, as happened with the Rwanda scheme.

The Government has vowed to change the law to make it clear people arriving in the UK illegally will not be allowed to stay, either facing deportation back to their home country or a nation like Rwanda where a deal is in place.

Attempts by ministers and officials to use a former RAF base in Essex to house asylum seekers are also set to end up in court.

Braintree District Council said it has been granted an injunction hearing at the High Court on Wednesday and the Home Office has agreed not to move any migrants on to the Wethersfield site until after that date.