More than 500 migrants cross English Channel on Wednesday, provisional statistics show

More than 500 migrants are believed to have crossed the English Channel on Wednesday, the highest number in one day so far this year.

The Home Office said in provisional statistics that 514 migrants and 10 small boats were detected crossing on 20 March.

It marks the highest number of crossings in the month of March since records began, and the highest daily figure since 2 December.

It also breaks the previous highest number of crossings this year, when 401 people crossed the Channel on 4 March.

The cumulative number of arrivals by small boats in 2024 now stands at a provisional total of 4,043, 10% higher than the same point in 2023, which saw 3,683.

In total, there were 29,437 arrivals across the whole of 2023.

It is also 25% higher than the total at the same stage in 2022, where 3,229 crossings were recorded.

Yvette Cooper MP, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, said in response to the latest figures that "more people crossed the Channel in a single day yesterday than the Tories plan to send to Rwanda in a year".

Referencing reports that implementing the Rwanda bill will cost £500m, she said: "It shows Rishi Sunak's entire approach is just about gimmicks and headlines instead of getting a proper grip.

"Over 500 people arrived in small boats yesterday alone, yet ministers have admitted they will only be sending a few hundred people to Rwanda.

"The Tories have let criminal gangs take hold along the Channel undermining our border security and putting lives at risk."

One of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's key pledges was "to stop the boats".

Mr Sunak is still looking to implement his Rwanda policy and said he wants flights deporting asylum seekers to the African country off the ground in the spring.

The bill has been delayed over concerns about whether it violates international law. In 2023, the government's attempt to launch the first deportation flight was halted as the Supreme Court ruled the policy was unlawful.

It argued there was a risk that people sent to Rwanda could be sent back to their country of origin and have their safety jeopardised.

The House of Lords also rejected the latest version of the bill earlier on Thursday, after MPs rejected their previous amendments.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that the Rwanda bill is emergency legislation, and added: "The legislation is dealing with a migration emergency and we are introducing that legislation as soon as we possibly can to reduce the number of people taking the perilous journey across the Channel."

He then said it was "frustrating" the House of Lords had not passed the legislation on Wednesday night.