Despite the threat of deportation to Rwanda and the UK military now in the Channel, the number of migrants crossing the Channel continues unabated.
More than 250 people were detected in small boats crossing the Channel to the UK on Sunday, whilst The Ministry of Defence (MoD) say 254 migrants were detected in seven small boats on Bank Holiday Monday. The MoD say that more were expected to arrive during the day.
The figure takes this year’s total for small boat crossings to at least 6,947 – more than three times the count of 2,004 at the same time last year.
Up to 300 military servicemen, Navy ships and surveillance drones are being deployed to the Channel after the Armed Forces took control with the Navy assuming Border Force’s responsibility for intercepting migrant boats.
An RAF Wildcat helicopter is now the key military asset in the air and is being used to carry out a final ‘sweep’ of the Channel at the end of each day to ensure all migrants – and their dinghies – have been recovered. This is not preventing migrant crossing, they are just ensuring that no-one is left at sea!
There comes a point where we need to get a grip of our border and stop the boats
This is despite the MoD taking control of migrant operations in April when the government announced plans to send some of the individuals making the journey to Rwanda.
Meanwhile, a French MP has warned that Priti Patel’s Rwanda migrant plan is being used by people smugglers to urge asylum seekers to bring forward their Channel crossing. French MP Pierre-Henri Dumont said Ms Patel’s controversial plan, could be having the opposite effect than was intended.
Mr Dumont said there was evidence that UK Government plans to process asylum applications in Rwanda was encouraging migrants to attempt the crossing before the measures take effect.
The law came into effect last Thursday but has been met with criticism and is already facing legal challenges. But is very early days – it was only announced three weeks ago and the actual work to transport migrants to Rwanda hasn’t started yet.
Last week, Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said that the drop in migrants to zero was evidence that Home Secretary Priti Patel’s scheme, which will see asylum seekers sent 4,000 miles to claim refugee status from Rwanda, is ‘working already’.
Mr Bridgen, the MP for North West Leicestershire, tried the usual political spin by tweeting: ‘Priti’s migrant policy is working already. No illegal migrant crossing for a week and no income for people traffickers, freeing up civil servants to work on Ukrainian evacuees. We should offer the illegal migrants already here the option of returning to France or going to Rwanda.’
The truth was because there has been a persistent, strong, north-easterly wind in the English Channel which had prevented any small boats making the crossing. As soon as the calm weather returned, so did the migrants. We are not stupid Mr Bridgen!