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Migrant Channel crossings top 2,000 for year so far

Figures show 290 people made the journey in five boats on Sunday, the highest number making the crossing in a single day for more than a month.

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A Border Force boat in the Channel

More than 2,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year after crossing the Channel.

Home Office figures show 290 people made the journey in five boats on Sunday, suggesting an average of around 58 people per boat.

This is the highest number of people making the crossing in a single day for more than a month, after 358 people were recorded on January 17.

The latest crossings take the provisional total number of arrivals for 2024 so far to 2,006.

This is 32% lower than the total recorded this time last year (2,953) but 49% higher than the total at this stage in 2022 (1,482).

Some 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK after making the crossing in 2023, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

The figures came as Rishi Sunak denied he is ignoring concerns being raised by locals about the use of RAF Scampton near Lincoln as accommodation for asylum seekers.

“I’m not ignoring them,” the Prime Minister told BBC Radio Lincolnshire as he was challenged repeatedly on Monday.

“We do need to make sure that we house people in appropriate accommodation and the best way to resolve this issue long term is to stop people coming in the first place.

“So anyone who cares about this should be backing us to get the Rwanda Bill through Parliament so we can get a deterrent up and running.

(PA Graphics)

“I’m confident that we really will be able to stop the boats and that will mean that we won’t have this pressure in all our local areas to find places to house illegal migrants.”

He insisted he understands “people’s frustration” over the use of the site, telling the radio station: “I wish we were not having to do any of this, whether it’s RAF Scampton or other sites across the country, or indeed in hotels and communities across our country that now are being used to house illegal migrants.

“I don’t think any of that is right and it costs a fortune.”

He added that use of the former airbase would be on a “temporary basis” although the Government could extend its use as asylum housing for a further three years.

Labour’s shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock accused Mr Sunak of “failing miserably to deliver on a key promise to the British people” over a year after he vowed to “stop the boats”.

But Downing Street insisted the Government had taken “robust action” to prevent crossings.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Obviously our priority is to stop the boats, which is why we have taken robust action to crack down on people-smuggling gangs, deter migrants from making crossings and intercept vessels, working with our French counterparts.”

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