Record number of migrants cross Channel in one day

By Miranda Bryant

Hundreds of migrants crossed the Channel to the UK on Monday, setting a new daily record.

The Home Office said that at least 430 people made the crossing. In Dungeness, Kent, about 50 people, including women and young children, were seen arriving on a beach after crossing in a single dinghy.

The previous daily high was set in September when 416 people arrived in the UK from across the Channel.

The home secretary, Priti Patel, has pledged to make the crossing “unviable”, but people have continued to make the dangerous journey this summer.

Eight boats carrying 241 people arrived in the UK on Saturday and to date, nearly 8,000 people have reached the UK this year in around 345 boats, the BBC reported.

The dinghy that reached Dungeness is believed to have left either northern France or Belgium earlier in the day before crossing the 21-mile Dover Strait. It was watched by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) as it approached before landing at approximately 1pm.

The migrants included children who were too young to walk, while some of the arrivals needed help as they walked on to the beach.

It came as MPs debated plans for sweeping reforms to the asylum system under the nationality and borders bill, branded the “anti-refugee bill” by critics, in parliament on Monday.

The bill would make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK illegally and people could face up to four years in prison. It also includes clauses that would allow the UK to send asylum seekers to a “safe third country”.

The former prime minister Theresa May has spoken out against the bill, saying she considered it when she was home secretary but dismissed it due to “practical concerns”.

The bill has been denounced by charities including Refugee Action, which has called the plans “extreme and nasty”.

Bella Sankey, the director of charity Detention Action, said: “The Home Office’s anti-refugee bill is political theatre that doesn’t even pretend to deal with the issue or make our system, safe, fair or efficient.

“We need a mechanism allowing refugees arriving at the UK border in France to be given safe passage, and until we have it, all else is noise and distraction.”

Dan O’Mahoney – the clandestine channel threat commander who was appointed by Patel last year – said of Monday’s record Channel crossings: “There is an unacceptable rise in dangerous small boat crossings across the channel because of a surge in illegal migration across Europe.”