Over 260 migrants rescued from Channel as Boris Johnson defends Rwanda policy

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Migrants who attempted the crossing of the English Channel from France arrive at Dover on board a lifeboat (Getty Images)
Migrants who attempted the crossing of the English Channel from France arrive at Dover on board a lifeboat (Getty Images)

More than 260 migrants were rescued from the English Channel on Tuesday, authorities said, as ministers faced growing criticism over the deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda.

The Dover RNLI lifeboat and Border Force ship Vigilant brought some 92 migrant adults ashore, while 12 children were also photographed leaving boats on the southeast coast.

Asked where they came from by a reporter from the PA news agency, they said Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another Border Force ship, the Typhoon, carried some 97 people ashore while a further 50 people were rescued by the Hurricane.

The latest arrival brought the number of migrants arriving in Kent on Tuesday to approximately 260 people. More than 10,000 people have made the perilous crossing so far this year.

Last year, at least 28,341 migrants made the journey across the Channel in small boats, according to the BBC.

It came as the Government defended plans to send migrants to Rwanda after the Church of England branded the policy “immoral”.

The first flight containing asylum seekers is set to depart on Tuesday, with just seven people due to be on board after a number were removed following legal challenges.

Of those seven, lawyers representing three - including two from Iran - are seeking an order to prevent their removal to Rwanda.

Ministers have faced criticism over the cost of the policy, with ITV’s Paul Brand claiming that Tuesday’s flight could cost as much as £100,000 per person due to legal challenges.

Boris Johnson said the government would press on with the policy despite widespread opposition and insisted it would be effective in tackling criminal gangs.

“We are not going to be in any way deterred or abashed by some of the criticism that is being directed upon this policy, some of it from slightly unexpected quarters,” he said.

“We are going to get on and deliver.

“The objective is to ensure that we make that clear distinction, that I think everybody can see is fair and reasonable, between legal immigration to this country by safe and legal routes, which we support and uphold and protect because we all understand the benefits that it brings, and distinguishing that from dangerous and illegal cross-Channel migration which we intend to stop.”

Mr Johnson claimed that lawyers representing migrants were “abetting” criminal smuggling gangs.

He said they were undermining “everything that we’re trying to do to support safe and legal routes”, and “undermining people’s confidence in the safe and legal system”.

Rwandan high commissioner Johnston Busingye told The Telegraph that his country will be a “safe haven” for migrants, after The Times and the Daily Mail reported that the Prince of Wales allegedly said in private that the policy is “appalling”.

Mr Johnson was not drawn on Prince Charles’ alleged comment, saying: “This is about making sure that we break the business model of criminal gangs who are not only risking people’s lives but undermining public confidence in legal migration.”

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