Migrant Coverup: Home Office to Stop Publishing Daily Illegal Migrant Figures

A UK Immigration Enforcement officer helps a migrant, picked up at sea attempting to cross the English Channel, remove his life jacket on arrival at the Marina in Dover, southeast England, on January 10, 2022. - Last year, record numbers of more than 28,000 migrants who paid thousands of pounds …
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Priti Patel’s Home Office has been accused of attempting to cover up the scale of the migrant crisis in the English Channel after plans to scrap the publication of daily boat migrant figures were leaked to a British newspaper.

On Wednesday evening, the British broadsheet most closely connected with the Tory government, The Daily Telegraph, reported that the Home Office, under the direction of Home Secretary Priti Patel, is planning to release the number of illegal migrants who cross the English Channel on a quarterly basis rather than reporting the numbers in real-time as has been customary to now.

The move to release migrant figures every three months was revealed by the UK’s Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR), which told the paper: “We have urged the department to take account of user need for a more frequent publication.”

Last year, a record 28,400 illegal migrants crossed the Channel on small boats set off from the beaches of France, more than three times that seen in the year prior.

While January is typically a quiet month for people smuggling operations across the busy waterway due to wintery weather conditions, the furious pace of boat migrant crossings has only escalated, with nearly 1,000 migrants crossing since the start of the year, compared to 223 during the entire month last year.

The mooted move to scrap official daily reporting of illegal migrant crossings by Home Secretary Priti Patel — who previously vowed to the British public to make illegal boat migration an “infrequent phenomenon” — has drawn heavy criticism from border control advocates.

Commenting on Thursday evening on GB News, Migration Watch UK chairman Alp Mehmet described the plan as “absolutely insane” and “undemocratic”.

Mr Mehment questioned whether the move would be effective in covering up the numbers of migrants as journalists only have to count the migrant as they are brought ashore by the Border Force.

The Migration Watch chairman said that the decision was likely influenced by the besieged government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson wishing to avoid the “flak that follows when large numbers come in”.

Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said: “This is not a statistical exercise – this is a serious crisis where people are exploited by criminal gangs on a daily basis and lives are tragically lost. Daily figures are vital so the progress in tackling this crisis can be properly monitored.”

The government, which promised to ‘take back control‘ of the nation’s borders following the official departure from the European Union at the beginning of 2020, has been frequently criticised for failing to do so, as well as so far failing to come to an agreement with the EU or France individually on the issue of migrant returns.

In order to quell a growing revolt against the Prime Minister over repeated lockdown partying scandals, the Tory government has embarked on a so-called “Operation Red Meat” strategy of offering up traditionally conservative agenda items to appease the base, including sending the Royal Navy in to coordinate the migrant response.

Yet, the navy has rejected any notion of actually sending migrants directly back to France, with Brexit leader Nigel Farage saying that the Royal Navy would become just an “expensive taxi service“.

Brexit leader said that the plan to quash daily reporting figures “must not be allowed to happen”, noting that the public is “seething” over the government’s failures.

“This is a disgrace. The Home Office do not want us to know the truth,” he added on social media.

Mr Farage has previously predicted that some 60,000 illegals will make the journey across the English Channel. Earlier this week, the Home Office was reportedly warned that up to 65,000 could land on British shores this year.

The former head of the Border Force, Tony Smith also warned this week with travel restrictions being eased and trade beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels, the UK will likely see an increase in migrants attempting to break into the country through other means, saying that the “annual asylum intake [combined] could challenge the previous record of over 100,000 per year in 2002.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka

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