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MPs launch inquiry into increase in Channel migrant crossings

1 month ago 157
Migrants on a small dinghyImage copyright PA Media

MPs have launched an inquiry into the increase in the number of people trying to enter the UK by using small boats to cross the English Channel.

More than 1,000 migrants arrived on UK shores in this way in July.

The Commons home affairs committee will look at the role of criminal gangs play in facilitating these crossings, as well as the responses of UK and French authorities.

Labour said ministers were "failing to get to grips with the crisis".

The committee will also assess the conditions migrants face in France, where they often stay in makeshift camps while they wait for boats to become available.

Chris Philp, the minister for immigration compliance, said he met French deputy ambassador Francois Revardeaux on Wednesday. In a post on Twitter, he said the pair discussed "our collective mission to completely stop small boat crossings".

The Home Office declined to provide any further details of the meeting, saying it was private.

The remit of the committee's inquiry will also include the risk to migrants' lives from attempting the crossing in small vessels - and the response of UK authorities, in particular unaccompanied children.

The number of those making the crossing in July is almost as high as the combined total for May and June, with migrants encouraged to make the journey by good weather and calm seas.

'Unacceptable'

As the increasing number of arriving migrants became apparent this week, local Kent MPs expressed their concerns.

Natalie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover, tweeted her view that the "unacceptable situation" must be "brought to an end".

Labour's Rosie Duffield, who represents Canterbury, said the numbers represented those "whose terror at making this most treacherous of crossings was still not as horrific a concept as staying in the place where they were".

Previously, Labour's shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the government suffered from a "lack of competence" over migrant crossings.

He said the crisis was "deeply concerning".

The committee, chaired by Labour MP Yvette Cooper, has previously questioned Home Secretary Priti Patel on the issue, but will now conduct a full inquiry.

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