Former borders chief predicts 100k boat migrants will reach UK in 2022

Former borders chief predicts 100,000 migrants will attempt to reach UK shores this year as Channel boats crisis grows

  • Tony Smith said there has been ‘a fourfold increase already this year’ in boats
  • If correct the final figure would be more than 300 times the amount seen in 2018
  • He praised the Government’s Rwanda scheme as a ‘bold attempt’ to stop boats 

More than 100,000 Channel migrants will reach Britain this year, the UK’s former Border Force chief has told the Mail.

Backing the Government’s asylum deal with Rwanda, former director general of UK Border Force Tony Smith said: ‘There comes a point where we need to get a grip of our border and stop the boats.

‘The numbers are going up, a fourfold increase already this year – 28,500 last year,’ Mr Smith told the Mail at an immigration event by think-tank Policy Exchange. 

‘That’s going to be over 100,000 this year just by migrant boats alone.’

Tony Smith, former director general of UK Border Force, said 100,000 would migrants reach the shores of Britain this year

Mr Smith’s prediction would be nearly 12 times the level seen in 2020, 54 times that of 2019 and more than 300 times that in 2018. 

So far this year 6,693 migrants have reached the UK across the Channel – four times that seen by the same point last year. 

There were 651 arrivals last Wednesday, a level not seen last year until the calm summer months.

In January, it emerged that the Home Office had produced official papers warning that 65,000 migrants could cross this year. 

The number of crossings has since outstripped this.

Mr Smith praised the Rwanda scheme, which will see asylum seekers sent 4,000 miles to claim refugee status from the East African country.

He said: ‘I think it’s a bold attempt by the government to stop the boats.

‘We have to stop the boats – people are drowning and people are going to drown.

‘The problem the government has is the French won’t accept people back, nor will the EU, so the migrants know that simply by paying £5,000 and getting in a small boat, getting into the English territorial waters, they’re essentially in the UK.

‘So the Government is right to look at alternatives. We need to find countries that are prepared to take people.

He praised the Government’s controversial Rwanda scheme as a ‘bold attempt’ to stop the boats

‘If Rwanda is a safe country, which is offering them protection and a new life, if it means they don’t have to go back to the country they fear persecution from, then this is an alternative to having more and more people coming across the Channel and drowning.’

Another former top borders officer said the Rwanda agreement will short circuit the ‘classic’ asylum claim where someone claims to be facing religious persecution.

Glyn Williams, the former director general of the Home Office’s migration and borders group, said: ‘The classic claim at the moment is “I’m a Christian but I can’t pursue my Christian religion in Iran or Iraq”.

The Rwanda scheme has been heavily criticised by members of all parties, including former Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May

‘If Rwanda is, and I believe it is, a safe country, where someone who’s claiming they suffered discrimination, you can pursue it in Rwanda.

‘You will be given safe haven there. What’s wrong with that?’

Mr Williams led a Home Office delegation to Rwanda for the first ‘serious talks’ in November, and retired the following month.

He added: ‘One of the things I’ve been really disappointed about in the last few days is the level of assumptions that are being made about Rwanda.

‘People were just saying “it’s a terrible place, how can you possibly send anybody to there?”

‘I think because of their experience with the genocide in the mid-90s, they’re particularly sensitive about how people are treated and trying to stop exploitation because they had it big time.

‘I don’t think the Rwandans are doing this just for the money. I think that they actually have genuine humanitarian motivations as well.’

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