Record number of migrants cross Channel in first six months of year

cent higher than at this time in 2023
The number of arrivals so far this year is 17 per cent higher than at this time in 2023 - Dan Kitwood/Getty

A record number of migrants have crossed the Channel in the first six months of this year in a new blow to Rishi Sunak.

Some 257 people were detected reaching the UK on Sunday, taking the cumulative number of arrivals so far this year to 12,901.

This is a new record for the first six months of a calendar year, according to provisional figures from the Home Office, up from the previous highest number of 12,747 in the six months from January to June in 2022.

The cumulative number of arrivals so far this year is 17 per cent higher than the total at this point last year, which was 11,058, and eight per cent higher than the total at this stage in 2022, which was 11,975.

There were 29,437 arrivals across the whole of 2023, down 36 per cent on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

Upon entering Downing Street, Mr Sunak promised to stop small boat arrivals. But the latest arrivals takes the total number of migrants who have crossed the Channel during his premiership close to 50,000.

It now stands at 49,966 crossings since he entered Number 10 in October 2022. The average number of arrivals on his watch stands at almost 575 a week, according to a Labour Party analysis. The weekly average for the whole of Boris Johnson’s premiership was 404.

When he entered Downing Street, Rishi Sunak promised to stop small boat arrivals
When he entered Downing Street, Rishi Sunak promised to stop small boat arrivals - Toby Melville/AFP

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow paymaster general, said: “Whatever else happens in this election campaign, Rishi Sunak will always be known as the Prime Minister who broke his promises to Britain.

“He pledged to stop the boats, but has seen 50,000 people make the crossing on his watch, is currently presiding over the worst year ever for small boat arrivals, and has the Home Secretary’s closest parliamentary aide now dismissing his Rwanda policy as ‘crap’.

“Sunak also promised to get our national debt falling, but this week we hit the worst debt levels since 1961. He promised to get NHS waiting lists down, but they have risen by more than 350,000 since he gave that pledge. He promised to restore growth to the economy, but took Britain into recession.

“He promised to cut taxes, but gave our country the highest tax burden for 70 years. He promised to bring integrity and professionalism back to Downing Street, but instead gave us the disgraceful spectacle of top Tories using their inside knowledge of the election date to make a killing at the bookmakers.”

Last week Mr Sunak said the fact that young children were crossing the Channel was “desperately sad” and demonstrated why his Rwanda policy needed to be implemented.

He told broadcasters: “If re-elected as prime minister, the flights will go to Rwanda, we will build that deterrent, removing the incentive for people to come here in the first place.

“That’s the only way to solve this problem, and in contrast Keir Starmer would release everyone that we have detained, illegal migrants would be on our streets, they wouldn’t be on the planes, which would be cancelled. There would be no deterrent.”