Record number of migrants cross English Channel in first three months of 2024

27 March 2024, 13:02

The number of migrants who have arrived in the UK so far in 2024 across the Channel has reached a record high
The number of migrants who have arrived in the UK so far in 2024 across the Channel has reached a record high. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The number of migrants who have arrived in the UK so far in 2024 after crossing the Channel has reached a new record high for the first three months of a calendar year.

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According to provisional Home Office figures, 338 people arrived in seven boats on Tuesday, taking the total for the year to date to 4,644.

This exceeds the previous record high figure of 4,548 for January to March 2022 and had already surpassed the 3,793 arrivals in the first quarter of last year.

The number of crossings recorded so far this year is 23% higher than the total at this point in 2023 (3,770) and 12% higher than the same time in 2022 (4,162), PA news agency analysis of government data shows.

Last year a total of 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel, down 36% on a record 45,774 arrivals in 2022.

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Migrants brought in to Dover, Kent yesterday
Migrants brought in to Dover, Kent yesterday. Picture: Alamy

The figures come after Rishi Sunak continued to insist his plan to "stop the boats" was working even though crossings in 2024 were tracking ahead of recent years.

Downing Street declared Mr Sunak's administration was dealing with a "migration emergency" after a record day for crossings last week. Some 514 people made the journey in 10 boats on March 20, making this the busiest day since the start of the year.

Meanwhile, the Government's Rwanda Bill remains stuck in parliamentary limbo after a series of further defeats in the Lords, with MPs not scheduled to debate it again until after Westminster returns from its Easter break.

Labour said it was "time to get a grip and restore order to the border" in the wake of the latest figures.

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said: "Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Rishi Sunak keeps on telling the British people that small boat arrivals are coming down and his promise to stop the boats remains on track.

"Can he not see what is happening from inside his No 10 bunker, or does he think we can't see it for ourselves?

"Either way, it's time to get a grip and restore order to the border."

The Home Office said the number of crossings was "unacceptable" and shows "exactly why we must get flights to Rwanda off the ground as soon as possible".

A spokesman added: "We continue to work closely with French police who are facing increasing violence and disruption on their beaches as they work tirelessly to prevent these dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys.

"We remain committed to building on the successes that saw arrivals drop by more than a third last year, including tougher legislation and agreements with international partners, in order to save lives and stop the boats."

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