A French warship has been accused of escorting a dinghy full of 13 migrants and leaving them with a TV news crew.
Journalist Pip Tomson was aboard a boat in the English Channel reporting for ITV’s Good Morning Britain on the crisis when migrants were thrown at them by French authorities.
French authorities then disappeared, forcing the TV crew to act as guards until British border officials could arrive.
Ms Tomson said: “We are watching this migrant boat and making sure its passengers are not in trouble.
“The border forces have not arrived yet as they are busy dealing with other incidents. We will follow them until they arrive.”
As these videos below show, a British Border Force jetski has finally arrived to take over.
A record number of at least 430 migrants illegally crossed the Channel to the UK in a single day, the government said on Tuesday, as it pledged a crackdown.
Monday’s figure surpassed a previous daily record of 416 set in September 2020, and came as British lawmakers debated new legislation that would revise asylum rules and impose tougher prison sentences on migrants and the smugglers.
Growing numbers of migrants – many on dangerously overcrowded inflatable boats – have reached the UK since early 2020. Crossings generally increase in favorable summer weather.
A dinghy carrying around 50 people, including women and young children, touched down in Kent on England’s south coast on Monday, with some of them raising their hands in celebration.
Dan O’Mahoney, the government’s illegal canals threat commander, called the increase in crossings “unacceptable” and “dangerous”.
“People should seek asylum in the first safe country they reach and not risk their lives making these dangerous crossings,” he said.
“We continue to pursue the criminals behind these illegal crossings.”
Last year, the government said about 8,500 people arrived in Britain after crossing the Channel in small boats from mainland Europe, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
Most of the crossings start in France, and the two governments disagree on who should take responsibility for stopping them.
O’Mahoney said the government’s Nationality and Borders Bill, which is under consideration in Parliament, “would protect lives and break this cycle of illegal crossings.”
The legislation increases the maximum penalty for migrants entering the UK illegally from six months to four years. Convicted smugglers could face a life sentence.
“People are crossing the Channel because they have no more options,” Daniel Sohege, director of human rights group Stand For All, wrote on Twitter.
“This is what happens when other roads are closed,” he added, saying the new bill would make the situation “worse and more dangerous”.
But Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted the legislation was long overdue, promising to regain control of Britain’s borders after the country’s departure from the European Union in Brexit.
“This bill will finally tackle the problems that have led to the dysfunction of the system – over a long period – of illegal migration,” she told parliament on Monday.
The Interior Ministry has been contacted for comment.