There is something curious about even the very modest degree of success the Prime Minister has been able to herald on his key priority of stopping the boats. Every time the wind drops and the sun comes out the numbers crossing surge just as they did during the long hot summer of 2022.
This happened, for example, immediately after Rishi Sunak’s last set-piece outing on the subject in Dover on 5 June. Then he declared that the government’s policies were ‘working’ and were reducing numbers in a way that ‘we haven’t seen before’.
As it turned out, June went on to be the best month of the summer weather-wise and it saw 3,824 irregular migrants crossing – the highest number for any June on record. The 20 per cent fall that Sunak had pointed to at the start of the month was down to about 10 per cent by the time it ended. Then the Channel saw a rainy and blowy July and August and the 20 per cent margin was magically restored.
September has begun with temperatures rising, winds falling and the sun beating down on southern England. And lo and behold, Saturday saw the biggest single day tally for crossings of the year so far at 872 in 15 boats.
We shall soon see if this patten continues across the coming days, during the forecast mini-heatwave. If it does, then I suggest far less credence be given to all the wheezes and media blitzes unveiled by Sunak on this issue and that his eager lurches into self-congratulation be greeted only with mockery. We shall know that the climate hasn’t changed on Channel crossings, just the weather.