‘Shameful’: what the UK papers said about Channel tragedy

Watch: More than 40 migrants filmed crossing Channel as French police watch from beach

The front pages of Thursday’s papers are dominated by the deaths of 27 migrants in the Channel with the coverage veering from sombre reporting to accusations that the French authorities did not do enough to prevent the tragedy.

The Times’ main headline says “Dozens of migrants drown in Channel dinghy tragedy” and features a photograph of migrants preparing to launch a boat from France on Wednesday.

An editorial on the disaster calls for more co-operation between the UK and France to try to stop a repeat. “Without intensive cross-border co-operation to tackle people-smuggling gangs, little can stem the flow of dangerous crossings and prevent further fatalities,” it says.

The Guardian front page headline, which went to print before the total death toll was revised down to 27, reads “Tragedy at sea claims 31 lives in deadliest day of refugee crisis” along with a picture of a woman arriving on the beach at Dungeness in Kent with a small child in her arms.

It reports that a record 25,700 people have attempted the crossing this year, three times the total for the whole of 2020, according to official figures.

The FT also carries the earlier figure in its headline with a similar angle to the Guardian noting the worst day so far in the migrant crisis. “More than 30 migrants drown in worst disaster of Channel surge”, it says.

The Telegraph says “31 migrants die in Channel disaster” and reports that Boris Johnson has told the French government that it has to “step up” in order to prevent the small boats leaving its shores for the UK.

Other titles are more explicit in reporting No 10’s finger-pointing at Emmanuel Macron’s government.

The Mail uses what it says is the prime minister’s words to the French president as its front page headline – “You’re letting gangs get away with murder” – under the strapline reading “Tragedy in the Channel”.

The Express takes a slightly different interpretation of Johnson’s words with “PM: Smugglers getting away with murder”.

The Sun’s headline reads “Shameful” and asks “Now will leaders finally act?” to stop the stream of boats making the perilous crossing.

The Mirror calls the deaths “A human tragedy” that occurred “under the noses of French cops”.

The i hints at the wider causes of the disaster in its main headline “Horror in the Channel: 31 die in search of a better life”, while the Metro asks “Why didn’t France stop them?”.

The Metro’s lead story begins “A French police patrol watches refugees set off for England yet does nothing …”.