Gavin Mortimer Gavin Mortimer

Is Giorgia Meloni stoking Britain’s migrant crisis? 

(Photo: Getty)

In the last week, more than 1,000 migrants have crossed the English Channel, which is twice the number of people that the government’s barge can house on the Dorset coast.  

This was unveiled last week as the latest wheeze to address Britain’s migrant crisis: a floating barge with 222 rooms to house up to 500 migrants as their asylum applications are processed. It might be an idea to put in an order for a few more.  

According to Frontex, the European Border Agency, 5,622 migrants landed on the Kent coast in January and February this year, an increase of 82 per cent on the same period in 2022. 

This is despite the fact there has been a marked decrease in Albanians crossing the Channel because of Rishi Sunak’s deal with his Albanian counterpart. Of the 46,000 people who arrived in the UK last year on a small boat, 12,300 were Albanians; only a couple of hundred have come so far this year.

That’s the good news for the government; the bad news is what is unfolding on the Italian coastline this year, which will inevitably have repercussions for Britain. 

In the first three months of this year, 27,280 migrants landed in Italy, numbers not seen since the height of the migrant crisis of 2015-16. On the weekend of March 25-26, the Italian coastguard rescued 3,600 migrants in 59 vessels of varying levels of seaworthiness; another 2,000 made it to Italy under the own steam or aboard an NGO vessel, one of which was the Louise Michel, financed by the British street artist, Banksy. 

The numbers arriving show no sign of slowing, and on Easter Sunday, 26 small boats carrying 974 migrants landed on the island of Lampedusa. Many more people would be reaching Italy but for the work of the Tunisian coastguard.

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