New arrivals appear to take Channel crossings to more than 100,000 since 2018

The number of people crossing the English Channel on small boats in the last five-and-a-half years could have passed 100,000 following fresh arrivals of migrants on lifeboats on Thursday.

PA news agency analysis of Government figures since current records began on January 1 2018 showed that, as of Tuesday, 99,960 people have arrived in the UK after making the journey.

And RNLI lifeboats were spotted bringing dozens to shore on Thursday (pictured), meaning it is likely the milestone has been reached.

An eyewitness said there appeared to be more than 40 people brought ashore on board two lifeboats, which had attended a dinghy out in the Channel.

They included women and children, with one woman carrying a small child in her arms.

Data on the number of migrants detected crossing the English Channel in small boats to enter the UK each day is published by the Home Office and Border Force.

The figures are published the day after and in its latest update on Thursday, the data shows that on Wednesday, zero people were detected.

Since the beginning of January 2023 to August 9, figures show 15,071 people crossed the Channel.

Tory Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson said he is “very angry” about the 100,000 figure and that “if things don’t go to plan”, the Government may have to take “drastic measures” and leave the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

He told GB News: “I’m very angry about the number. Again, very angry, as you know, every single day when I see these illegal migrants and let’s be clear on what they are.

“They’re illegal migrants. They’re not genuine asylum seekers … look, it’s been very, very difficult for the Government. I’ve been banging out about it since I got elected.”

On the ECHR, he said he has always been “an advocate of leaving”, adding: “You know, we’re a team. If things don’t work, if things don’t go to plan, then we’ve got to take drastic measures, and I would fully support the Government in doing that.”

On passing the 100,000 milestone, Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “100,000 is a landmark. Criminals are making fools of us. Billions are being spent on accommodation and our asylum system is overwhelmed. It seems the weather is better able to defend our borders than the Border Force.

“It is time to change our laws so that the British Government has the final word on who can enter and who can stay in the UK.”

It comes just weeks after sweeping asylum reforms became law and while the Government fends off legal challenges in the courts over its Rwanda deal and decisions to house migrants on former military sites in Essex and Lincolnshire.

Meanwhile, asylum seekers were finally moved onto the Bibby Stockholm barge this week on the Dorset coast after the plans were beset by delays.

The much-criticised Illegal Migration Act, central to the Prime Minister’s pledge to “stop the boats” crossing the Channel, will prevent people from claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorised means.

Officials are still working on when the legislation will come into force, and it is anticipated elements of the new laws may be implemented in stages over the coming months.

The 100,000 milestone was reached following a series of Government announcements during what was dubbed “small boats week” in Westminster, which included a crackdown on immigration lawyers helping migrants “exploit” the system, and a new partnership with Turkey to disrupt people-smuggling gangs.

On Thursday, it was also announced Bas Javid, currently deputy assistant commissioner at the Metropolitan Police Service and brother of Tory former home secretary Sajid Javid, will become director-general of Immigration Enforcement in November.

Moreover, talk of leaving the ECHR is once again dividing the Conservative Party, after immigration minister Robert Jenrick hinted on Wednesday that the Government could pull out of the agreement.

Newspaper reports suggest that at least eight Cabinet ministers are among the senior Tories prepared to put leaving the ECHR at the heart of the Conservatives’ next election campaign if deportation flights are blocked by the courts.

The Daily Telegraph reported that up to a third of the Cabinet will join other Conservative MPs in backing the move, in a bid to tackle small boats crossing.

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