A French warship has been accused of escorting a dinghy crammed with 13 migrants and leaving them with a TV news crew.
Journalist Pip Tomson was on board a boat in the English Channel reporting for ITV’s Good Morning Britain on the crisis when the migrants were dumped on them by the French officials.
The French authorities then vanished, forcing the TV crew to act as guardians until the British border officials were able to arrive.
Ms Tomson said: "We are observing this migrant boat and making sure its passengers don’t get into difficulty.
"Border Force have not arrived yet as they are busy dealing with other incidents. We will follow until they arrive."
As these videos below show, a British Border Force jetski eventually arrived to take over.
‘A Border Force jet-ski has just turned up, which we understand is quite a rare sight’
Border Force have now met the boat and are expected to escort them into Dover and then process the [email protected] pic.twitter.com/t94TGIMTTe
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) July 20, 2021
A record number of at least 430 migrants have illegally crossed the Channel to the UK in a single day, the government said Tuesday, as it vowed a crackdown.
Monday’s figure surpassed a previous daily high of 416 set in September 2020, and came as UK lawmakers debate new legislation that would overhaul asylum rules and impose stricter jail terms for both migrants and people-smugglers.
Growing numbers of migrants – many of them on dangerously overcrowded inflatable boats – have reached the UK since the start of 2020. The crossings typically increase in favourable summer weather.
One dinghy carrying around 50 people, including women and young children, landed on Monday in Kent, with some of them raising their hands in celebration.
Dan O’Mahoney, the Government’s Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, called the rise in crossings "unacceptable" and "dangerous".
"People should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and not risk their lives making these dangerous crossings," he said.
"We are continuing to pursue the criminals behind these illegal crossings."
Last year, the Government says, roughly 8,500 people arrived in Britain having made the perilous Channel crossing from mainland Europe, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, in small boats.
A migrant is escorted by a Border Force officer as he is brought ashore at Dover Harbour in Kent after crossing the English Channel
Credit: Stuart Brock/LNP
A group of people thought to be migrants crossing from France come ashore from the local lifeboat at Dungeness in Kent, after being picked-up following a small boat incident in the Channel
Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
A migrant toddler is carried by a Border Force officer as she is brought ashore at Dover Harbour in Kent after crossing the English Channel
Credit: Stuart Brock/LNP
Most of the crossings start in France, and the two governments have been at loggerheads over who should take responsibility for stopping them.
Mr O’Mahoney said the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which is proceeding through Parliament, would "protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings".
The legislation increases the maximum sentence for migrants entering the UK unlawfully from six months to four years. Convicted people-smugglers would face a life sentence.
"People cross the Channel because they are out of options," Daniel Sohege, director of the human rights group Stand For All, wrote on Twitter.
"This is what happens when other routes are closed," he added, saying the new bill would make the situation "worse and more dangerous".
But Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted the legislation was long overdue, vowing to take back control of UK borders after the country’s Brexit departure from the European Union.
"This bill will finally address the issues that have resulted in the broken system – of over a long period of time – of illegal migration," she told the House of Commons on Monday.
The Home Office has been contacted for comment.