Migrants cross English Channel for first time in 2024 after Home Sec told LBC target was 'zero crossings this year'

13 January 2024, 09:25 | Updated: 13 January 2024, 14:39

Migrants arriving at Dover, Kent, on Saturday morning
Migrants arriving at Dover, Kent, on Saturday morning. Picture: Alamy/LBC
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The first group of migrants to cross the English Channel in 2024 were spotted coming into Dover on Saturday morning.

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There had been no arrivals since December 16, Home Office figures showed, primarily due to poor weather conditions at sea.

On Saturday, a group of migrants were brought to shore on a Border Force boat in Dover, Kent, in the morning.

Previously there were 26 days of no crossings to the UK recorded up until January 11.

This was the longest gap in small boat arrivals for five years.

The first group migrants arriving in 2024 after crossing the English Channel
The first group migrants arriving in 2024 after crossing the English Channel. Picture: Alamy

It comes after the Home Secretary told LBC that it was his target for there to be no Channel crossings at all.

“My target is to bring it down to zero. I’m completely committed," he told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on January 2.

Read More: Migrants will have to meet new £38,700 salary threshold but not until 2025, Sunak says, after backlash from Tory right

Read More: Emergency laws needed to ‘stop the boats’, says sacked Suella Braverman after court rules against Rwanda plan

“In 2024?” Nick replied.

“That’s my target," the Home Secretary said.

The government has made migrant crossings a central aspect of their mission, with Rishi Sunak vowing to 'Stop the Boats'.

The provisional annual total for 2023, 29,437, is 36% lower than the record 45,774 crossings for the whole of 2022.

It is still the second highest annual total on record, above the figure for 2021 (28,526).

Rishi Sunak has vowed to 'Stop the Boats'
Rishi Sunak has vowed to 'Stop the Boats'. Picture: Getty

"The prime minister and Home Secretary spent the festive period crowing about their small boats policies, but this proves what experts said the whole time," said Stephen Kinnock, Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister.

"The pause in crossings had nothing to do with them and everything to do with the wet, windy weather.

"Next week, instead of focusing all their efforts on the sensible interventions we know will work, like Labour’s plan to smash the criminal smuggling gangs and speed up returns, they will once again spend their time fighting with each other over their failing and extortionate Rwanda plan.

"We know the Tories have already pledged to give up to £400 million to the Rwandan government without a single person being removed to the country. It’s time they stopped wasting taxpayers’ money and get on with the hard work needed to stop the small boat crossings."

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