Boris Johnson warned migrant crisis could ‘destroy’ Tory party as hundreds more cross Channel to UK

It is thought at least 10 migrants have died in the last few weeks while trying to make the dangerous crossing

Emily Atkinson
Sunday 21 November 2021 01:03
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<p>A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel. </p>

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel.

The migrant crisis in the UK could “destroy” the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson has been warned, as children were once again pictured among the hundreds making the perilous Channel crossing.

Adults carrying children wrapped in blankets were seen arriving on the south-east coast of England on Saturday with help from lifeboat crews.

Official figures have not yet been confirmed, but it is believed hundreds made the journey across the Channel to the UK.

On Saturday, a prominent party donor told The Telegraph that ministers must do “far more” to tackle the current migrant crisis, saying it “going to destroy us and there is going to be a Farage-style party”.

Speaking to the newspaper, the donor - who asked to remain anonymous - accused the prime minister of copying David Cameron's drift to the centre during the Coalition.

They said: “When you move to the centre, you open up a gap in your right flank and somebody comes in and sets up there. You can’t get a majority there.”

The Times has reported that Mr Johnson has drafted in Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay to oversee the swelling migrant crisis.

Hundreds crossed the Channel on Saturday

The move to bring in Mr Barclay could be seen as an admission that home secretary Priti Patel had failed to manage the issue effectively.

It follows Sir Keir Starmer’s accusation that Ms Patel had not secured strong enough agreements with the French government to prevent migrants crossing the Channel. He said Ms Patel repeatedly used “strong language” to say how she would tackle the problem, but delivered “absolutely nothing”.

According to French officials, 243 people were rescued on Saturday and brought to safety at the ports of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Dunkirk and Calais.

More than 24,700 people have arrived in the UK so far this year after making the Channel crossing in small boats – almost three times the number there were in 2020. This includes at least 1,247 who arrived since Monday.

It is thought at least 10 migrants have died in the last few weeks while trying to make the dangerous crossing.

It comes after Ms Patel vowed earlier this week to prevent “100 per cent” of migrant Channel crossings and promised to make the route across the sea “unviable” during talks with French officials.

In a meeting with French interior minister Gerald Darmanin, it was reported the pair said: “Tonight, the home secretary spoke to her French counterpart Gerald Darmanin to discuss the problem of small boats crossing the Channel and the operational response to it.

“Both the home secretary and interior minister agreed to strengthen operational cooperation further. More must be done to stop the dangerous crossings.

“They agreed to accelerate the delivery of the commitments made in the joint agreement of July 2021 to deliver on their joint determination to prevent 100 per cent of crossings and make this deadly route unviable.”

Kevin Saunders, former chief immigration officer for the UK Border Force, argued that people who arrive in the UK via the Channel need to be processed offshore.

He told Times Radio: “The most effective way would be to take all the people who have arrived in the UK to an offshore processing centre and deal with it offshore.

“That is the only way you will stop people from coming into the UK. We’ve seen trying to do it with the French on land, on the Channel, nothing works.”

Asked why it had to be offshore, he said: “People will still come to the UK, because they know we are not going to be able to remove them from the United Kingdom when their asylum claim fails.”

More than 24,700 people have arrived in the UK so far this year after making the Channel crossing in small boats – almost three times the number there were in 2020.

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