Migrant arrivals in UK could surge as 1,300 arrive over three days

Figures a blow to Rishi Sunak's 'stop the boats' pledge

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, following a small boat incident in the Channel. PA
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The number of migrants arriving in the UK could surge this summer, the government warned after more than 1,300 arrived on small boats at the weekend.

A total of 686 migrants arrived on Friday, the highest daily total this year, followed by 384 on Saturday and 269 on Sunday, with crossings continuing on Monday.

The number of migrants who have arrived in the UK by small boat this year now numbers about 12,119. This is roughly 4 per cent lower than last year, but July, August and September were the busiest months for crossings in 2022.

Thirteen boats were detected crossing the Channel on Friday, with an average of 53 people crammed on to the flimsy vessels. The number arriving that day surpassed the previous high of 549, which was recorded on Sunday, June 1.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made “stopping the boats” one of his five key pledges after a record 45,755 made the crossing last year.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: “I think we always knew that, as we move into the summer months, crossings will escalate. We are continuing to stop significant numbers of crossings.

“I still believe that you are more likely to be stopped and turned back than to make the crossing, and that's because of the work with our French counterparts and the extra support that we have put in.

“But clearly the numbers making the journeys are still too large and that's why we need the other elements of our 'stop the boats' package.”

While Mr Sunak claimed last month that his plan to stop small-boat Channel crossings is “starting to work”, recent figures from the UK’s Border Force show he still has a long way to go.

The Border Force is predicting the number of arriving migrants will reach 40,000, with the worst-case scenario seeing 55,000 arrivals.

Figures show that a record 3,824 migrants crossed the Channel in June, about a fifth higher than the 3,140 that arrived in the same month last year.

The Labour Party’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock urged the Prime Minister to take “serious action”.

“This is clearly not a government with a grip,” he said.

“The Tory asylum chaos is just getting worse and worse, and the country is paying the price for these … failures.”

Since entering Downing Street last October, Mr Sunak has come under intense pressure from MPs, councillors and campaigners in his own Conservative Party to stamp out illegal immigration.

The figures come after the Illegal Migration Bill suffered a string of defeats during its passage through the House of Lords and Mr Sunak's plan to deport migrants to Rwanda was dealt a blow by an appeal court ruling.

The government has lodged a bid to take its legal battle over the Rwanda plan to the Supreme Court.

Updated: July 11, 2023, 1:56 PM