More than 4,000 migrants reach UK by small boats in 2020

More than 4,000 migrants have now reached the UK in 2020 by crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Families with young children have been among hundreds of people arriving in Dover in the last few days as the political row over the crisis has intensified.

While South East England basked in roasting sunshine on Saturday, another 151 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the dangerous Dover Strait.

The Home Office has officially asked the Royal Navy for help and a former Royal Marine has been appointed “clandestine Channel threat commander”.

Border Force cutter Seeker in the harbour at the port of Dover
Border Force cutter Seeker in the harbour at the port of Dover

More migrants have reached the UK on Sunday, with Border Force cutter Seeker roaming British waters.

Up to 12 people were seen being brought ashore in Dover earlier this morning aboard patrol boat Speedwell.

French authorities are also active in the English Channel today.

After a surge in crossings in the latter part of this week, the number of migrants who have reached the UK in 2020 in small boats is now more than 4,100, analysis by the PA news agency shows.

So far in August more than 650 have successfully reached British shores via the dangerous Channel route.

Most of that number came between Thursday and Saturday, with at least 532 migrants arriving in the UK.

Small boat crossings are facilitated by ruthless criminals with no regard for the safety of those they smuggle.

We are working with Border Force, the @NCA_UK and our French counterparts to make the route across the Channel unviable.

— Home Office (@ukhomeoffice) August 8, 2020

This comes despite Home Secretary Priti Patel’s vow last year that the crossings would have become an “infrequent phenomenon” by now.

She has recently sought to level blame at her counterparts on the continent as she revealed the UK and French governments were locked in a row over the interpretation of maritime law.

Yesterday it was announced that Ms Patel has tasked former Royal Marine Dan O’Mahoney with delivering her ambition of making the English Channel “unviable” for migrants in small boats.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke has been calling for migrants to be returned to France irrespective of whether they are picked up in British or French waters.

She said on Twitter: “With a record number of people illegally crossing this year, all options need to be on the table.

“But whether it’s the Navy or whoever, dinghies should be returned to France, and the French need to stop boats leaving French shores in the first place.”