Migrant Channel crossings since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister top 50,000

More than 50,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, including over 13,000 so far this year.

Home Office figures show 144 people made the journey in three boats on Tuesday, taking the provisional total for 2024 to date to 13,045.

This is already a record for the first six months of a calendar year.

Graphic showing the cumulative arrivals of people crossing the English Channel in small boats for the whole of 2024
(PA Graphics)

It is also 16% higher than the number recorded by this time last year (11,278) and up 7% on the same period in 2022 (12,206), according to PA news agency analysis of Government figures.

The latest arrivals mean the tally of crossings since Mr Sunak became Prime Minister on October 25 2022 now stands at 50,108.

Some 42,438 of those have been recorded since he pledged to “stop the boats” as one of five key pledges for his premiership on January 4 2023.

More than 3,000 arrivals have been recorded since the General Election was called on May 22 (3,163), with immigration a key campaign battleground.

Rishi Sunak speaking at a lectern
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made five key pledges, including to “stop the boats”, last year (James Manning/PA)

In the last six and a half years, as the migrant crisis unfolded, 127,390 people have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel, data recorded since the start of 2018 shows.

Some 82,409 have made the journey since the Government struck the stalled deal to send migrants to Rwanda in April 2022.

And 6,378 migrants have arrived since the Safety of Rwanda Act, which was intended to pave the way for deportation flights to get off the ground, received royal assent earlier this year on April 25.

Last year a total of 29,437 migrants arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel, down 36% on a record 45,774 in 2022.

James Cleverly conceded that the numbers were “too high” but insisted that the Conservatives could offer action where both Labour and Reform UK “don’t have a plan”.

Asked by reporters on the campaign trail about the scale of small boat crossings in the Channel under the Tories, the Home Secretary said: “Saying illegal migration is too high is true. That’s the easy bit.

“Doing something about it is what you have to do and we have taken action.”

Mr Cleverly said Labour’s “grand idea” on border control is to create an organisation that already exists and do less than the Tories have done but hope for better results.

Labour has said it would scrap the Conservatives’ stalled scheme to deport some asylum seekers to Kigali, which it says is unworkable, and divert £75 million to a new “border command” force.

“Their border command is the small boats operational command,” he said.

“Their returns unit is immigration enforcement … but they’re going to remove the Rwanda scheme.

“Their grand idea on border control is to do less than we are currently doing and somehow hope that it has better results.”