Britain is braced for another record day of migrant crossings

Britain is braced for another record day of migrant crossings as 30 more are caught in Channel today – as Priti Patel warns France she won’t pay promised £54m until they clamp down on people smugglers

  • Packed lifeboat was seen arriving on a beach in Dungeness in Kent as crossings boosted by heatwave
  • While officials led passengers away, one woman was seen clutching a small baby who was strapped to her 
  • Images show other young boys and girls being carried or escorted to safety among several men and women 

Dozens of migrants began arriving in Kent from dawn today after crossing the Channel unhindered as people traffickers used Britain’s Indian Summer to send record numbers of asylum seekers in dinghies towards the British coast from France.

Yesterday the number of migrants crossing the Channel is believed to have surpassed 1,000 in a single day for the first time as people smugglers take advantage of the late summer heatwave – with another record expected today.

It came as Priti Patel says she is ready to withhold the £54million promised to France to block migrant crossings because boat-after-boat continues to land in Kent every day. 

This morning a dinghy carrying around 30 migrants was reportedly been intercepted by Border Force officials, according to observers. The vessel with dozens of people including children on board was escorted to Dover Marina in Kent today.

People traffickers are thought to be taking advantage of the good weather to embark on crossings with flat calm seas. But conditions are expected to change later in the week making crossings more treacherous.

The Home Office has still yet to confirm how many people arrived from France yesterday. It said it would release the official figures after all the migrants had been processed. 

A border force worker carries a child among a group of migrants brought into Dover this morning after crossing from France

The improved weather of the last few days is believed to have led to a rise in the number of migrants attempting to make the crossing from France

Migrants in life jackets were carried into Dover by a Border Force ‘hunter’ as people traffickers take advantage of the good weather

The Home Secretary met Conservative MPs last night and blamed the French for the significant numbers of people coming across the Channel, claiming she was prepared to pull the funding that was pledged less than two months ago if they do not stop three in four crossings by the end of the month, The Times reports.  

MPs have already questioned why the UK has given yet more money to Paris when so many people are still making the dangerous journey.

Yesterday’s estimated total could smash the record of 828 crossings in a single day, set on August 21 – the last time migrants successfully crossed to Britain.

A spell of poor weather halted attempts, before 158 asylum seekers, including children, reached the UK across the world’s busiest shipping lane on Sunday.

However yesterday, with calm seas and temperatures around Dover reaching 24C, the smugglers are thought to have tried to overwhelm Channel defences by launching as many boats as possible.

Witnesses described seeing a number of large dinghies land across the south coast throughout the day, with other groups intercepted by lifeboats and brought ashore. The crossings – and the money given to the French – will heap further embarrassment on Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has repeatedly vowed to close the deadly smuggling route.

Around 13,000 have already crossed the Channel to reach Britain this year – eclipsing the 8,417 who made the journey in the whole of 2020. The Home Office has previously pledged to make the journey ‘unviable’. Yesterday it said it could not ‘confirm nor deny’, the reported record number of crossings. Two dinghies were seen landing at Dungeness, Kent, containing around 60 people.

The Dungeness RNLI lifeboat also brought in more than 30 to the beach, including at least one toddler and a number of children. Some migrants, who travelled in families with children, gave thumbs-up signs to photographers as they were escorted by Border Force officials to be processed.

One boat was found abandoned near Dungeness Power Station surrounded by lifejackets, indicating there are more who will not be officially counted among the total.

A lifeboat in Hastings, East Sussex, helped a group of more than 30 ashore. Witnesses also reported that at least 50 asylum seekers had been brought into Dover marina by a Border Force cutter after being intercepted.

There were even reports of four men canoeing in a dinghy that was so overloaded that it was partly submerged.

Traffickers in France are likely to be making a final push before the unpredictable weather of autumn.

As many as 300 more migrants were seen in the dunes near Dunkirk, waiting for boats bound for the UK yesterday.

Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migrationwatch, said: ‘For as long as the route is successful, the numbers are simply going to go up. If people can come to the UK on a dinghy and stay here there is too much money to be made by traffickers for them to stop. Currently, there is nothing to discourage them. We have got to show coming across illegally in a dinghy won’t work. At the moment, it is working.’

In Parliament yesterday, Boris Johnson said Miss Patel was ‘working around the clock’ to ensure France impedes the passage of migrants across the Channel. Meanwhile, French coastguard officials also intercepted several attempted crossings.

Dan O’Mahoney, the Home Office’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said: ‘This unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and a surge in illegal migration across Europe. So far, we have secured nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions and prevented more than 10,000 migrant attempts.’

Natalie Elphicke, the Tory MP for Dover, said: ‘People who are perfectly safe in France brazenly break into Britain day after day. If the French won’t stop the small boats then we need to – by turning boats back, making returns and taking firm control of our borders.’

Ms Patel is said to be furious at the low numbers being intercepted since she signed off on the £54million payment to France to double the number of patrols. 

She told MPs: ‘We’ve not given them a penny of the money so far and France is going to have to get its act together if it wants to see the cash. It’s payment by results and we’ve not yet seen those results. The money is conditional.’

Her warning came as migrant crossings hit another record high with reports of 1,000 men, women and children spotted making the journey to Britain on Monday. 

The astonishing new figure, based on witness sightings collated by Sky News, is thought to be the highest daily figure and well over the previous record of 828 on August 21. 

Home Office sources told MailOnline initial estimates were that the 1,000 figure was ‘too high’ – but declined to provide an official number. Other sources said the figure was likely to be near 1,000. 

The Prime Minister now says Home Secretary Priti Patel is ‘working around the clock’ to ensure France impedes the passage of illegal migrants across the Channel. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘A large number of people want to come to this country, and we are doing everything we can to encourage the French to do the necessary and impede their passage.

‘But I know the Home Secretary is working right around the clock to ensure that we not only encourage the French to stiffen their sinews and stop people making the journey, but we use every possible tactic available to us as well.’ 

A group of migrants are brought ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent on Monday

A man gestures as a group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel

A packed lifeboat was pictured arriving on a beach in Dungeness in Kent on Monday before migrants disembarked on the beach to be met by Border Force 

The group of migrants arriving at Dungeness in Kent Monday afternoon included families with young children 

Monday’s scene took place against the ghostly backdrop of Dungeness, which is one of the largest expanses of shingle in Europe  

A wave of crossings – including this one at Dungeness – is thought to have been prompted by the recent spell of warm weather  

Migrants are escorted along Dungeness beach on Monday by Border Force officials in one of a series of crossings 

While officials led passengers away, one woman was seen clutching a small baby who was strapped to her


A child giving a thumbs up to a photographer after landing at Dungeness on Monday (left), and a young girl on her father’s shoulders 

A second dinghy was shown pulled up on the shingle near Dungeness Power Station with discarded lifejackets around it

A panorama of the dinghy on the left, and the migrants gathering on Dungeness beach accompanied by Border Force 

The group who landed on Dungeness on Monday afternoon were rounded up by Kent Police and Border Force 

Pictured: A graph showing the number of migrants crossing the Channel on small boats since 2019. The figure has increased each year 

A packed lifeboat was pictured arriving on a beach in Dungeness in Kent yesterday morning after picking up migrants from a dinghy out at sea. A second dinghy was shown pulled up on the shingle with discarded lifejackets around it.

While officials led passengers away, one woman was seen clutching a small baby who was strapped to her. Images showed other young boys and girls being carried or escorted to safety among several men and women. 

Three large white coaches were seen parked up on a stretch of land, apparently ready to drive away the arriving migrants. 

Witnesses described authorities including Border Force, and the RNLI, as being very busy as a steady stream of crossings was under way amid calm waters and sunny skies.

One onlooker said: ‘It looks like the authorities have been overwhelmed today.’ 

Sunday saw the first small boat crossings for more than two weeks due to bad weather.

Some 158 people, including five children, arrived on Dover from four boats.

Those arrivals brought the total number of people who have crossed to the UK aboard small boats this year to more than 12,500, according to data compiled by the PA news agency.

MIGRANT CROSSINGS: SIX TIMES A NEW DAILY RECORD WAS SET 

At least 430 migrants crossed to the UK on small boats on Monday – a new single-day record. 

PA, which tracks and analyses numbers of crossings, has compiled a list of five days in the last two years when a new record was set.

July 19, 2021: 430 people reach the UK

Dozens of people, including women and young children, were seen walking ashore after one beach landing on the Kent coast, while more arrived elsewhere.

Some raised their hands in celebration as they stood on the beach, while others sat down on the shingle shoreline amid 75F sunshine.

The Home Office said that overall at least 430 people arrived in various places after travelling aboard 14 boats.

September 2, 2020: 416 people reach the UK

A wave of boats departed France with hundreds of migrants making their way across the sunny and calm English Channel.

In the House of Commons Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced questions over the Government’s handling of the issue of small boat crossings.

August 6, 2020: 235 people reach the UK

Migrants arrived in the UK aboard 17 boats in what was then the highest numbers on record.

In one incident, Border Force apprehended 15 people who had landed at Dungeness beach in Kent.

July 30, 2020: 202 people reach the UK

At least 202 migrants managed to cross to Britain in a surge of 20 boats on July 30.

The arrivals said they were from a diverse range of nationalities, including: Yemeni, Palestinian, Ertitrean, Chad, Egyptian, Sudanese, Kuwaiti, Iraqi, Iranian, Indian, and Mali.

July 12, 2020: 180 people reach the UK

On the day Priti Patel announced a ‘new operational approach’ to dealing with small boat crossings, a record number of migrants made it to the UK.

At least 180 migrants were able to cross the English Channel to the UK, among more than 380 migrants who attempted the crossing, the rest being intercepted by French authorities.

August 21, 2021: 828 people reach the UK

The number of arrivals hits a new record, as President Emmanuel Macron warns there was a risk a wave of migrants would sweep towards Europe due to the turmoil in Afghanistan. 

September 6, 2021: 1,000 people reach the UK 

The new record was based on sightings from witnesses and reported by Sky News. 

Crossings in 2021 have already eclipsed last year’s annual total of 8,417 and that tally continues to rise on fair weather days.

Despite this, the UK continues to see far fewer boat arrivals and asylum claims than many of its European counterparts.

Earlier this year the RNLI saw a large spike in donations after the charity’s chief executive defended its role in rescuing people crossing the English Channel, describing it as ‘humanitarian work’.

It came after the charity said it had faced heightened criticism for rescuing migrants, with one crew having to call the police after being subjected to abuse. 

Dan O’Mahoney, Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said on Monday: ‘This unacceptable rise in dangerous crossings is being driven by criminal gangs and a surge in illegal migration across Europe.

‘We’re determined to target the criminals at every level, so far, we have secured nearly 300 arrests, 65 convictions and prevented more than 10,000 migrant attempts.’

‘But there is more to do. The Government’s New Plan for Immigration is the only credible way to fix the broken asylum system, breaking the business model of criminal gangs and welcoming people through safe and legal routes.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Home Secretary Priti Patel was ‘working around the clock’ to ensure France impedes the passage of illegal migrants across the Channel.

He was answering a question by Conservative MP Jacob Young (Redcar), who argued Britain’s ability to provide Afghans a safe passage to the UK is strained by ‘the continuing uncontrolled illegal migration on the English Channel’.

Mr Johnson said: ‘My honourable friend is completely right and, of course, the issue is that very sadly I think our friends across the Channel in France are faced with a very difficult problem.

‘A large number of people want to come to this country, and we are doing everything we can to encourage the French to do the necessary and impede their passage.

‘But I know the Home Secretary is working right around the clock to ensure that we not only encourage the French to stiffen their sinews and stop people making the journey, but we use every possible tactic available to us as well.’  

A spokesperson for Kent Police said on Monday: ‘Kent Police assisted Border Force following a report of suspected migrants at Denge Beach, Dungeness at 11.40am on Monday 6 September 2021.’

The Home Office have not yet revealed how many migrants have made the crossing.

Meanwhile in France it was reported at as many as 300 more people were seen in dunes near Dunkirk waiting for boats bound for the UK.

French coastguard officials said several boats attempting to cross the Channel were in difficulty off the Strait of Pas de Calais.

The first boat was spotted near Pas-de-Calais by the police helicopter with four castaways rescued and their boat on board before dropping them off at the port of Dunkirk.

A second boat with 37 people including two women and a child were also picked up and brought back into Dunkirk. 

They were brought ashore after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel

158 people including women and toddlers made the crossing on Sunday the Home Office says (this picture was taken on Monday in Dover Harbour) 

Migrants are brought ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent on Monday, after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel 

Four toddlers wrapped in hooded jackets and a baby being carried in an adult’s arms were seen

Crossings in 2021 have already eclipsed last year’s annual total of 8,417 and continues to rise

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