More than 800 people were detected crossing the Channel in small boats yesterday – the highest number on a single day so far this year.
The latest Home Office figures show 872 people arrived in 15 vessels yesterday – taking the total to arrive so far this year to 20,973.
The number yesterday surpasses the previous highest daily total of 756 on 10 August.
The development will be a further blow to Rishi Sunak who has endured a number of setbacks regarding the small boats crisis this summer.
It comes just a day before MPs come back from the summer recess and follows on from the departure of his director of communications, Amber de Botton, after just a year in the role.
The government has also been in the firing line over the crisis unfolding in schools over the use of unsafe reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC), which has forced more than 100 schools to either shut or partially close just as pupils prepare to go back after the school holidays.
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An unwanted milestone was reached last month when it was confirmed 100,000 people had crossed the Channel since records began in 2018.
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The latest headline that will set alarm bells ringing in Number 10 is confirmation that a total of 872 migrants were detected crossing the Channel in small boats yesterday. A record daily number this year.
The trajectory of Channel crossings in 2023 so far is not as sharp as last year (a record year), but much higher than it was in 2021.
Bearing in mind in December 2018, the-then home secretary Sajid Javid cut a family holiday short and declared a major incident after around 250 migrants crossed the Channel in 11 months, the PM cannot claim to have got the issue under control.
Conservative MPs have even suggested to us an election should be called early in May to avoid another summer of Channel crossings. Whenever the next general election may be, both parties are getting on an election footing.
The summer recess has not offered much respite for the government on immigration. All five of Mr Sunak’s pledges will be under scrutiny in the coming weeks.
The average number of migrants crossing the Channel per boat also hit a new monthly high in August, when some 5,369 people made the journey in 102 boats, an average of around 53 migrants per vessel.
However, compared with this time last year, data compiled by Sky News shows the number of arrivals is down by around 17%.
Mr Sunak has made stopping the small boat crossings one of his five key priorities for his government, but his plans for bringing down illegal immigration have been mired in difficulty and delay.
Late last month, 39 asylum seekers were moved off the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset following the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water system.
The accommodation, off the coast of Dorset, is ultimately intended to house 500 single men – though that is fewer than 1% of the people waiting for their claims to be heard.
The government claims the new accommodation will help save money for taxpayers, with hotel rooms for migrants costing up to £6m a day.
However, in a further blow to the prime minister, Home Office figures released last month showed the taxpayer bill on asylum almost doubled in a year to nearly £4bn – a figure he said was “unacceptable”.
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Home Office spending on asylum rose by £1.85bn, from £2.12bn in 2021/22 to £3.97bn this year.
A decade ago, in 2012/13, the total cost to the taxpayer was £500.2m.
Labour said the record-high asylum backlog amounts to a “disastrous record” for Mr Sunak and for Home Secretary Suella Braverman.
But Mr Sunak has repeatedly defended the government’s progress, saying: “We’ve already reduced the legacy backlog by over 28,000 – nearly a third – since the start of December and we remain on track to meet our target.
“But we know there is more to do to make sure asylum seekers do not spend months or years – living in the UK at vast expense to the taxpayer – waiting for a decision.”