Britain last night handed the French an extra £53 million to combat the surge in Channel migrants as more than 700 overran Border Force and reached the UK in just two days.
RNLI rescue craft, coastguards, fishing vessels and even a TV crew on a hired boat yesterday helped Border Force vessels deal with the record numbers of migrants crossing the perilous and busy Channel shipping lanes.
At least 280 migrants reached the UK on Tuesday, following 430 on Monday, a record for a single day. It took the total this year past 8,000 and close to the annual figure of 8,417 for the whole of last year.
The move came as Home Secretary Priti Patel last night struck a new deal with the French in which the Government will provide an extra 62.7 million Euros (£53 million) in a bid to prevent migrants leaving the French coast.
The money, on top of £25 million last year, will pay for a doubling in the number of police to around 200 a day who will patrol the French beaches in a bid to prevent the gangs of traffickers shipping the migrants across the Channel for an average £2,500 per person.
The new agreement with her French counterpart Gerland Darmanin will expand the police presence and the use of surveillance technology over a wider area of the north French coast. It is also expected to lead to a joint bid to forge a new pan-European deal for EU nations to take back illegal migrants who reach the UK.
A group of people thought to be migrants are escorted from the beach in Dungeness, Kent, by Border Force officers following a small boat incident in the Channel
Credit: Gareth Fuller
A toddler is carried by a Border Force officer
Credit: Stuart Brock/LNP
A man is searched by a Border Force officer after being escorted from the beach in Dungeness, Kent
Credit: Gareth Fuller
It came as Border Force and immigration officers warned they risked being overrun. Lucy Moreton, professional officer for their union, said the eight Border Force vessels would normally intercept all the migrants but the scale meant some were reaching UK shores or being rescued by other craft.
“The last 24 hours have not been normal. RNLI, coastguard and fishing vessels have been involved in picking up migrants because of their obligation to help vessels in distress,” she said.
‘To say Border Force are stretched is an understatement. Not only are those working at sea seriously over capacity so are those on land.”
Border Force intercepted the first boat of around 20 migrants taking advantage of the flat seas and clear skies at about 10am. A further 12 – mainly men from Iran and North and Eastern Africa – landed their orange rigid hulled inflatable boat on the pebbles at Dungeness, Kent at 11.15am.
One migrant told photographers on the beach the group had paid £3,000 each for the 10 hour crossing, while another was seen wearing a denim jacket with the slogan ‘live or die’ emblazoned on the back.
At the same time a French warship escorted into British waters a group of 13 migrants crammed into a small dinghy designed for six before handing them over to a baffled news crew.
There have been a record number of migrant boat crossings with 14 boats arriving [email protected] reports from the Channel where another boat is making the dangerous crossing. GMB have alerted the coastguard to the boat. pic.twitter.com/XNOgy87b4U
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) July 20, 2021
Good Morning Britain journalist Pip Tomson said they alerted Border Force, but agreed to ‘observe’ the migrants because UK officials were so busy handling other crossings. Around 20 minutes later, a Border Force jet-ski was filmed escorting the dinghy to the English coastline.
Announcing the agreement last night, Ms Patel said the British people “have simply had enough” of illegal migration. “The public are rightly angry that small boats are arriving on our shores, facilitated by appalling criminal gangs who profit from human misery and put lives at risk,” she said.
“The Government is addressing the challenge of illegal migration for the first time in over two decades through comprehensive reform of our asylum system.”
The Government hopes the extra investment in the French efforts will increase the number intercepted before they get to British waters from 50 per cent to 80 per cent.