Six Iranian men with a small boat have been found on a beach in Kingsdown, near Deal in Kent, the Home Office has confirmed.
Border Force officials were called at 7.30am on Sunday morning and detained the men who have been handed over to be processed by immigration officers.
It’s the latest development in what Home Secretary Sajid Javid has described as a “major incident” unfolding in waters off the south coast of England.
Javid is under pressure to “get a grip” on the issue of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel amid criticism over the Government’s response.
He has promised to do more to tackle the issue, saying it is of “grave concern” that people are attempting the perilous crossing, cutting short his Christmas break and returning to Westminster as a result.
In the face of calls for more Border Force Cutters to be deployed in the Channel, he said it was “vital we strike a balance between protecting them and protecting our borders” – and avoid encouraging more people to take the risk.
The UK and France have agreed to step up action to deal with migrants making the perilous attempt to cross the English Channel in small boats.
An “enhanced action plan” to be launched in the coming week will include increased joint patrols and surveillance, disruption of organised trafficking gangs and efforts to raise awareness among migrants of the dangers of a Channel crossing.
The plan was agreed in a phone call between Sajid Javid and his French counterpart Christophe Castaner.
Javid has come under criticism from Labour and some Tory MPs for his handling of the issue, with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott accusing him of being “slow to respond” and branding his strategy “flawed”.
Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Abbott said: “He has still to explain exactly how the Government plans to handle these mass criminal operations in British waters.
“The Home Office’s flawed strategy has been to focus on deterring refugees, thinking that the issues in the Mediterranean would never reach our shores.
“While the Tories wax lyrical about control of our borders and being tough on security, they cannot seem to get a grip on criminal smugglers operating on a few hundred miles of coastline, in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.”