Migrant transfers! Border Force and French boats caught meeting in the Channel

On another day of clement weather in the Channel, boatloads of migrants have been seen coming into Kent ports, unloading and then heading out to sea again. An RNLI boat was filmed landing on a beach at Dungeness before disgorging yet more illegal immigrants.

15,116 have migrants have now crossed over this year illegally. Last year’s tally – itself a record – of 8,420 is likely to be doubled over the coming days.

The Daily Mail report that the French have upped their game, preventing 51% of migrants from reaching Britain, instead of the usual 30%. The higher pick-up rate comes on the back of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s threat to withhold payments under the £54m deal struck in July if results didn’t improve.

The French have certainly been trying to convince sceptics they are halting as many migrants as they can. Europe minister, Clément Beaune appeared on France24 television channel and claimed French authorities were “working very, very seriously” to combat the booming people trafficking racket operating out of the Pas-de-Calais region and are playing a “very big part”.

Beaune also had a jab at Patel’s new policy of turning migrant boats back, describing it as an “excessive response”, “extremely dangerous” and “probably contrary to international law”.

The Emmanuel Macron protege’s outburst looks nearer to the truth than his claims France is keeping up its end of the bargain. The French still let 1,115 migrants through, stopping 1,177 in the ten days after the warning was issued. Preventing half of all migrant crossings is a long way short of all of them.

How long will the marginal improvement last? The Times quotes a government official who remarked: “When money is on the line, the French always pay attention.” But as one Twitter account that follows the migrant crisis closely quipped: “Once we hand over the money they’ll stop few again.”

Damningly for both the French and the British, live-tracking nautical maps downloaded by Channel migrant watchers show a Border Force boat heading towards and then sidling up against a French vessel at sea (see below).

If Border Force Hurricane wasn’t meeting the Abeille Liberté for a migrant handover, what on earth was it doing?

One person on social media commented: “It’s going to be a record breaking day.”

Yesterday, 174 migrants aboard 6 light crafts made it to Britain, the French halted 10. If eye-witness accounts and the good weather are anything to go by, today’s tally will be much higher.