Record 853 migrants reach UK in single day

A record 853 migrants reached the UK on Wednesday, to bring the total Channel crossings this year to more than 21,000, as the UK told France to “get a grip.”

Wednesday’s tally surpassed the previous daily high of 828 on August 21 as a UK Government source said: “France needs to get a grip. We are going to have to talk to them.”

The surge came in the same week as Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, sanctioned the first instalment of a £54 million deal with France after her counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister, pledged to stop 100 per cent of the crossing attempts in return for the full payment.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We welcome France’s commitment to work with us to prevent 100 per cent of crossings but it is vital they go further and faster to achieve this."

So far in November, 1,309 migrants have reached UK shores across just two days, bringing the total to 21,051 so far this year, dwarfing the 8,417 for the whole of 2020.

The French prevented 975 migrants from reaching the UK between Tuesday and Thursday which means there have been 2,284 attempted crossings this week despite the cold November weather.

French authorities prevented 975 migrants from reaching the UK between Tuesday and Thursday, according to the Home Office

Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

It came as a fourth death this week was reported in France. French police said one person had died and three had been injured – one critically – after a group of migrants was hit by an overground train in Calais on Thursday night.

The migrants "regularly use the track to reach their makeshift camps and other areas", said the local prosecutor’s office.

Franck Dhersin, vice president of the Hauts de France region, said all victims were from Eritrea, adding one of the three injured people was in a state of "absolute emergency".

It follows the death of a third migrant in the space of just two days. Emergency services discovered three people on the beach at Wissant, northern France, after finding a boat filled with water.

One person was confirmed dead while the other two migrants, who were suffering hypothermia, were taken to hospital in Calais. It followed a confirmed death and a missing migrant on Tuesday.

It is the most fatalities in a week since Kurdish-Iranian family Rasoul Iran-Nejad, 35, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, 35, Anita, nine, Armin, six, and 15-month-old Artin all died after the boat they were travelling in sank in October last year.

There were recriminations on Friday. Dover and Deal MP Natalie Elphicke said: "Month after month lives are being lost in the English Channel. This is not just tragic, it is wholly avoidable if the French stepped up to the plate and stopped boats leaving in the first place.

"Traffickers will continue to ply their disgusting trade while they are able to do so. It is the responsibility of all civilised countries to put a stop to it."

Xavier Bertrand, head of the Hauts-de-France region and Right-wing presidential hopeful, called for the ending of the Le Touquet accord, which moves UK border controls to Calais. He claimed it was creating a bottleneck of migrants in northern France.

"Today what you have to know is that we are holding the border for the English and we’ve had enough," he said. 

"The English are any hypocrites. I denounce these Le Touquet accords. You know what happens today? I’ve never seen a migrant who passed to the other side come back, the British keep them. Today, the UK is a magnet of this misery."

It suggests the migrants crisis could become an issue in the French presidential campaign where Mr Bertrand is facing off against Michel Barnier for the Republican nomination next month.

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