Record-breaking 28,395 migrants cross Channel in 2021 as pressure on Priti Patel grows


The United Kingdom has faced a record-breaking year for migrants making the perilous 21-mile journey from Calais to British shores. The total number of migrants who arrived in the UK in 2021 is reported to have reached 28,395, which is a couple of hundred more than the population of Chichester.

This was more than three times the number who crossed the Dover Strait in 2020, when 8,417 arrived in what was yet another record-breaking year for arrivals into the UK.

The highest number of crossings recorded in 2021 came in November, despite the assumption migrants would embark on the journey during summer when conditions tend to be fairer, when at least 6,869 people reached Britain.

Some 1,185 even arrived on Remembrance Day.

However, it was also during November when at least 27 people died when their makeshift vessel sank in the Channel.

There is growing pressure on Boris Johnson, 57, and Home Secretary Priti Patel, 49, to deal with the migrant crisis as the Tories continue to flounder in the opinion polls.

The issue of immigration and asylum has become increasingly important for voters, especially amongst those who backed Brexit and voted for Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party in the 2019 general election.

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These voters also appear to be dissatisfied with the Government’s handling of the Dover dinghy debacle.

Opinium’s head of political polling Chris Curtis told “If you look at Leave-voters specifically, they now say that is the most important issue but also about 80 percent of them say the Government is doing an absolutely awful job at handling it at the moment.”

Mr Johnson, who trailed 59-year-old Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party by seven-points in Opinium’s most recent opinion poll, has lost much of his Eurosceptic support in political surveys.

Brexit-voters proved vital for Mr Johnson’s victory in 2019, with the former Mayor of London uniting almost three-in-four Leave-voters.

The number of Leave-voters now supporting the Tory Party has fallen to just 53 percent.

Ex-UKIP and Tory MEP David Campbell-Bannerman, 61, highlighted just how important sorting the migrant crisis could be to the Tories’ recovery.

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Speaking about ways to reassure Leave-voters, Mr Campbell-Bannerman told “The boats must be stopped.

“This does bring a feeling of failed borders and has become a very serious issue of security and cost.

“Action is needed internationally to change the failed Refugee Convention.

“Amending the Human Rights Act, as Dominic Raab is doing, is part of a tricky knot of human rights laws.”

The Government has put forward the Nationality and Borders Bill which, if passed, will make it a criminal offence for a person to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission.

The Brexit-backing Home Office Minister Tom Pursglove, 33, said: “Seeking asylum for protection should not involve people asylum shopping country to country, or risking their lives by lining the pockets of criminal gangs to cross the Channel.”

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The Corby MP added: “The public has been crying out for reform for two decades and that’s what this government is delivering through our New Plan for Immigration.”

But Tim Naor Hilton, chief executive at Refugee Action, suggested the UK Government’s policy will lead to more deaths in the Channel.

“People will continue to cross the Channel in flimsy boats, and smugglers will continue to profit, unless ministers open up more routes for refugees to claim asylum here,” he said.

“We saw the deadly result of their strategy of keeping people out rather than keeping people safe, when at least 27 people died near our coast.

“And yet the Government wants to legalise this dangerous and callous policy in its anti-refugee bill, which will only lead to more people drowning. It must wake up and scrap this bill now.”

Care4Calais’ founder Clare Moseley added: “If the Government were serious about stopping people smugglers, it would create a safe way for people to claim asylum and put people smugglers out of business once and for all.


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