Around 80 migrants rescued in English Channel after making risky crossing from France in small boat

LONDON (AP) — Around 80 migrants were rescued at sea by British authorities on Thursday after a small boat got into difficulty while crossing the English Channel from France.

The coastguard confirmed that it scrambled two helicopters after the incident while the Royal National Lifeboat Institution dispatched lifeboats.

“The search has now concluded with all people accounted for and back on land," a spokesperson for the coastguard said.

The issue of how to stop migrants making the dangerous crossing across the Channel is one of the main issues during Britain's general election campaign.

Though the Conservative government has talked tough on limiting the migrants, the numbers making the crossing are rising.

The Home Office said 34 people made the journey in one boat on Wednesday, taking the provisional total number of crossings for the year so far to 10,779. This is up 42% on the number recorded this time last year and 8% higher than at the same point in 2022.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to “stop the boats” when he took the top job in Oct. 2022 and is promoting his contentious deal to send people who arrive in small boats on a one-way trip to Rwanda. Sunak says the Rwanda plan will act as a deterrent and has indicated the deportation flights would begin in July — after the election on July 4.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, has said he will scrap the scheme, describing it as a gimmick, if he becomes prime minister. Opinion polls show Labour way ahead of the Conservatives at the moment, with four weeks to go to polling day.