Diane Abbott admits she would INCREASE boat patrols to assist migrants coming from Calais

The Shadow Home Secretary told BBC Radio 4 Today Programme she would consider increasing boat patrols in British waters to assist migrants once they have the right to go through the asylum seeking process. The Labour MP, however, claimed the UK should work closely with France to convince migrants to avoid making the dangerous journey in the first place.

She said: “The focus has to be, at the end of the day, saving lives.

“The idea that we don’t save lives as some kind of disincentive to making the crossing is quite wrong.

“We need to stop them making the crossing in the first place.”

Asked which provision she would implement where migrants do make dangerous crossings to reach the UK and whether she would increase boat patrols in the Channel, she replied: “I may be that we should be increasing the patrols.

“But that’s only a palliative. You have to stop making the crossing in the first place.

“And you have to recognise that once they’re in British waters they’re entitled to claim asylum.”

She added: “We need to work with the French to work with these people and advise them on what their real options are.”

It comes as former Home Office chief David Wood warned Britain risks a humanitarian crisis unless is sends back migrants rescued in the English Channel immediately to France.

Nearly 300 people, mostly Iranian, have been rescued from the Channel since the start of November, with more than 180 making it to Britain to seek asylum.

The former head of Home Office immigration enforcement has also said organised crime has been “de-risked” as people smugglers know they don’t have to make it the full way across the Channel, “they can get half way across and the migrants will be taken the rest of the way”.

The numbers attempting the crossing have increased ten-fold in just two months, with latest figures showing 82 migrants in 10 different boats have tried since Christmas eve.

Yesterday Caroline Nokes, the immigration minister, described the number of incidents of migrants crossing the Channel as “deeply concerning”.

She said: “Attempting to cross the Channel in this way is extremely dangerous and they are putting their lives at risk.

“People should also be in no doubt that Border Force and the Police Aux Frontiéres are working together 24 hours a day to prevent attempts, protect life and prosecute offenders.

“At the same time, the UK’s NCA-led Organised Immigration Taskforce is working to stop people smuggling at source.”