Another Sunak Pledge In Tatters As Migrant Channel Crossings Hit Milestone

On what the government's planners say is "small boats week", it's revealed 100,000 people have made the journey since 2018.
Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference in Dover in June.
Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference in Dover in June.
WPA Pool via Getty Images

Two of Rishi Sunak’s pledges to the electorate looked to be in disarray after the number of migrants crossing the English Channel on small boats hit a milestone.

The Home Office confirmed this morning that 755 made the journey yesterday, taking the total since 2018 to 100,715.

Before 2018 there were few reports of migrants attempting to enter the UK via small boats, and the data was not routinely recorded by the Home Office.

It comes as Sunak’s ministers have been making a series of announcements on what Westminster has dubbed “small boats week”, while the PM has been away on holiday.

Meanwhile, NHS waiting lists have hit another record high, despite the prime minister’s pledge to bring them down.

New figures released by NHS England on Thursday morning show that an estimated 7.6 million people were waiting to start treatment at the end of June, up from 7.5 million in May.

It is the highest number since records began in August 2007.

In January, the prime minister made cutting waiting lists and stopping the small boats carrying migrants across the Channel from France two of his five “priorities” he wants voters to judge him by.

The other three are reducing the national debt, halving inflation and growing the economy – none of which are in good shape amid economic uncertainty.

Sunak, his ministers and senior Tory party ministers have thrown a lot at the migrant crackdown – from threatening to send people to Rwanda for processing to telling people not happy with living on floating barge to “fuck off back to France”.

An analysis in The Times suggests crossings are down by about 15 per cent on last year – mainly because of the bad weather – but still well above every other year since 2018 at the same point.

While Tory Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson is “very angry” about the figure, others have set the migrant “crisis” within another context.

Immigration expert Zoe Gardner has repeatedly argued refugees seeking to settle in Britain after fleeing their homeland typically have ties to this country.

She also says most refugees never come to rich countries such as the UK, and go to other countries instead, and that geography is “no excuse to shirk responsibility”.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “Small boat crossings have increased more than twentyfold over the last four years on the Conservatives’ watch, with more than 100,000 people now having made the dangerous journey across the Channel.

“The criminal gangs who profit from undermining our border security and putting lives at risk have continued to run rings around this government, with their profits soaring from £1 million a few years ago to over £200 million today, while convictions have collapsed.

“After years of empty pledges and broken promises, the Tories’ asylum chaos is just getting worse and worse. They cannot be trusted to get a grip.”


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