Up to 200 more migrants cross Channel by 10am after braving bitter cold and fog on journey from France in four small boats

  • More than 45,700 migrants crossed the English Channel by small boat in 2022
  • It comes amid fears the number of migrants sailing to the UK could hit 80,000 

Up to 200 migrants crossed the English Channel this morning despite the cold and foggy conditions at sea.

The first asylum seekers were seen dressed in their winter coats upon their arrival in Dover, Kent before dawn.

The migrants were intercepted by a Border Force vessel while making the bitterly cold crossing and then handed blankets as they disembarked the boat. A second Border Force vessel arrived in the port shortly after 9am.

At least four separate groups of migrants are thought to have made the treacherous journey across the 21-mile Dover Straits in rubber dinghies or other small craft so far today.

With each small boat typically transporting between 40 and 50 migrants, it is thought that up to 200 asylum seekers may have reached British soil before 10am this morning.

Up to 200 more migrants crossed the English Channel this morning in four small boats (pictured after being picked up by Border Force)

A group of people thought to be migrants are boarded on a coach at the immigration processing centre in Dover, Kent

This comes after 442 migrants, including a small baby, crossed the Channel on Sunday, January 22, bringing the total for 2023 so far to 592, according to official government figures.

The French coastguard confirmed they prevented a further 53 asylum seekers from reaching the UK the same day.

Early in the morning, the French Coastguard was alerted to a boat in difficulty off the coast of Calais.

The assistance and salvage tug Abeille Normandie was tasked with rescuing 53 stranded people, who were recovered on board the vessel.

They were then dropped off at the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer, where they were handed into the care of the fire and rescue service, emergency medical aid service, and the border police.

Sunday also saw it revealed that British ministers had spent more than £20million in 2022 deploying the Royal Navy to try and halt the small boats crisis.

Last year saw a record 45,728 people arrive in the UK in 1,104 boats – an average of 41 people per vessel

Government officials have predicted the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats could reach 80,000 in 2023

It revealed that British ministers had spent more than £20million in 2022 deploying the Royal Navy to try and halt the small boats crisis

Navy vessels were first deployed to assist Border Force last April by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said it would mean ‘no boat makes it to the UK undetected’.

A Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Defence revealed taxpayers had stumped up £87,097 daily for the military to monitor migrant crossings under Operation Isotrope.

Despite this, last year saw a record 45,728 people arrive in the UK in 1,104 boats – an average of 41 people per vessel – dwarfing 2021’s total of 28,526.

August was the busiest month, with 8,641 people arriving in Britain by inflatable dinghy or other small craft, and the busiest day came on August 22 when 1,295 migrants made the perilous journey in just 24-hours.

The Ministry of Defence is set to pull out of the Channel on January 31 – handing responsibility back to Border Force.

Ahead of a supposed crackdown on small boat arrivals, the people smugglers are demanding up to £18,000 a head at they boast having a ‘100 per cent success’ rate (pictured: screenshot from a TikTok video posted by people traffickers)

Government officials have predicted the number of people crossing the Channel in small boats could reach 80,000 in 2023.

Albanian gangs have already launched a TikTok advertising blitz offering stowaway trips to the UK, with criminals demanding up to £18,000 a head – boasting of a ‘100 per cent success’ record .

Unlike small boat arrivals, who are usually collected by lifeboats and passed to Border Force officials, lorry migrants disappear on arrival.

Meanwhile it emerged last week that three out of five of Britain’s Border Force cutters are currently undergoing maintenance instead of patrolling the English Channel protecting the nation’s coastline. 

HMC Valiant, pictured, is undergoing a £2 million ‘ship life extension programme’ 

HMP Protector, pictured, has been moored in Lowestoft, Suffolk for at least six months. It has been tied up for so long that it has been mapped on Google Street View

HMC Protector, Valiant and Seeker are all tied up in Lowestoft, Suffolk where they are all undergoing repairs, or recertification.

HMC Protector was bought second hand from the Finnish Navy in 2013. According to marine tracking data it has been moored up for the past six months awaiting safety certification works which were due to last 25 days. 

HMC Seeker is also undergoing work expected to cost up to £123,000 and due to last up to 25 days.

A Home Office official said: ‘Our utmost priority is protecting the safety of the public, the maintenance of Border Force’s vessels is managed throughout the year to ensure that this does not impact on our operational effectiveness.’

They did not provide any comment on why the three cutters were out of service at the same time.   

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