More desperate people cross Channel today despite boat tragedy

People who made the treacherous crossing this morning were given blankets to keep them warm as they arrived in Dover (Picture: PA/EPA)

Around 40 asylum seekers were brought to shore by rescuers in Dover this morning in the freezing cold.

They made it past French police and undertook the perilous Channel crossing, despite 27 people drowning at sea yesterday.

Among the dead were three children, 17 men and seven women – one of whom was pregnant – after the inflatable dinghy they were travelling in capsized near Calais.

Conditions faced by people making the crossing are often treacherous, as unscrupulous people smugglers pack them onto tiny and unstable boats to maximise their profits.

But people fleeing war and persecution back at home are still willing to take the risk, including the 40 split between two vessels intercepted by British officials this morning.

They were brought to the harbour in Dover on a lifeboat at around 5am, with blankets wrapped around them to shield them from the cold, wet and windy weather.

In France a large group of people trying to reach Britain were removed from buses and trains in Calais and detained.

People are still prepared to take the risk despite 27 deaths in the English Channel yesterday (Picture: PA)
The RNLI rescued the group, who were travelling in two boats, and brought them to shore at around 5am (Picture: PA)
Remains of damaged inflatable boat and a sleeping bag left today by migrants on the beach near Wimereux, France (Picture: EPA)
Border Force officials wait with people rescued from the English Channel this morning (Picture: Reuters)

But tensions between the UK and its neighbour are growing over the handling of the migration crisis, as people continue to make it past security.

Following yesterday’s tragedy, Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged France to ‘step up’ and do more to stop people crossing the Channel.

He reiterated a previous offer to carry out joint police patrols along the French Channel coast, which has so far been ignored by President Emmanuel Macron.

It comes after the UK agreed in July to pay France £54million to boost its security around Calais during 2021-22.

After chairing an emergency Cobra meeting over yesterday’s deaths, Johnson said: ‘This disaster underscores how dangerous it is to cross the Channel in this way, and it also shows how vital it is that we now step up our efforts to break the business model of the gangsters who are sending people to sea in this way.

‘The operation being conducted by our friends on the beaches, supported as you know with £54million from the UK, the technical support we’ve been giving, hasn’t been enough.

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Tensions are growing between the UK and France as people continue to slip through the net and reach Britain’s shores (Picture: PA)
This morning’s arrivals sit on a bus after being spoken to by Border Force officials (Picture: Reuters)
French officials say 31,500 migrants have left the French coast for England since the start of the year (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

‘Our offer is to increase our support but also to work together with our partners on the beaches concerned, on the launching grounds for these boats.

‘That’s something I hope will be acceptable now in view of what has happened because there is no doubt the gangs concerned will continue to deceive people, to put people’s lives at risk and to get away with murder.’

But France has blamed the UK’s ‘attractive’ labour market for the flow of people crossing the Channel.

French interior minister Gerald Darmanin, who is in charge of handling the crisis, said migrants are being promised ‘Eldorado in England’ by human traffickers.

He was due to speak to his counterpart, Home Secretary Priti Patel, this morning about the situation.

Mr Darmain said: ‘It is Britain’s attractiveness which is to blame, including its labour market.

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Boris Johnson has renewed his offer to carry out joint patrols along France’s coast (Picture: PA)
France has sought to blame the UK’s ‘attractive’ labour market for the flow of people trying to make it to the country (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson has urged France to ‘step up’ efforts to stop people smugglers getting people across the Channel (Picture: PA)

‘Everybody knows that there are up to 1.2 million clandestine migrants in the UK and English business leaders use that workforce to produce things that are consumed by the English’.

He told French radio network RTL that the smugglers are ‘criminals – people who exploit the misery of others, of women and children’.

He added: ‘There were pregnant women, children who died yesterday on that boat… and for a few thousand euros they promise them “Eldorado in England”.’

Calais MP Pierre-Henri Dumont has said Macron must reject Britain’s offer of extra help.

He said: ‘That wouldn’t work. It would require thousands of people. And there is also a question of sovereignty. I’m not sure the British people would accept the other way round if the French army was patrolling the British shore’.

Meanwhile president and chairman of the ports of Calais and Boulogne Jean-Marc Puissesseau has suggested France needs more money on top of the promised £54million.

He said: ‘We are obliged to control each lorry to make sure there are no migrants inside. We do it for not a penny.

‘It is gratis for your country, it costs the Port of Calais, 8million (euros) a year to control and I want that to be discussed again with your government. That was signed when the UK was in the Europe and has no place’.

Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart added: ‘I say that enough is enough. The British government has imposed immigration control on our territory for the last 20 years.

‘It has never had the courage to control this immigration back home. You have to react, react quickly to make it all stop.’  

He told RTL that since the start of the year, French police and rescuers there have saved 7,800 people in the country’s side of the Channel. According to French authorities, these figures have doubled since August.

They say 31,500 people attempted to leave for Britain since the start of the year.

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