Inquiry launched into huge rise in migrant crossings

An inquiry has been launched into the reasons behind the huge increase in migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The Home Affairs Committee in the House of Commons has previously questioned Home Secretary Priti Patel about the crisis, but now begins a full investigation.

The news comes amid reports of large numbers of migrants attempting to cross to British shores on Thursday.

Border Force cutter Seeker and patrol boats Speedwell and Hunter have been busy in UK waters on Thursday and the coastguard reported multiple incidents off the coast of Dover.

Neither the Home Office nor French authorities have yet confirmed how many migrants have been intercepted on Thursday which has seen more favourable weather.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
Migrant Channel crossing incidents

Announced on Thursday, the new Home Affairs Committee inquiry will look at the role of criminal gangs as well as the responses of UK and French authorities to combat illegal migration and support legal routes to asylum.

The committee will also investigate the conditions experienced by people gathered in northern France seeking to enter the UK.

This will include the risk to life when attempting to cross the Channel in small boats and the response of UK authorities when they reach the UK, in particular unaccompanied children.

Good to meet with the French Deputy Ambassador François Revardeaux today to talk about our collective mission to completely stop small boat crossings

— Chris Philp (@CPhilpOfficial) August 5, 2020

The news comes as Chris Philp, the minister for immigration compliance, said he met French deputy ambassador Francois Revardeaux on Wednesday.

In a post on Twitter, he said the pair discussed “our collective mission to completely stop small boat crossings”.

But the Home Office refused to provide any further details of the meeting, saying it was private.

Earlier, Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds accused the Government of a “lack of competence” over migrant crossings.

He said it is “deeply concerning” and said ministers were “failing to get to grips with the crisis”.

More than 1,100 migrants arrived in the UK in July alone, PA analysis shows.

That figure is almost as high as those of May and June combined.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
Migrant Channel crossing incidents

Two Kent MPs have also spoken out on the continued migrant crossings in recent days.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke met local residents to discuss the issue.

She said on Twitter on Thursday afternoon: “It’s an unacceptable situation and vital that these small boats crossings are brought to an end.”

Meanwhile Labour’s Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, tweeted about the “terror” migrants faced in crossing the dangerous Channel earlier this week.