UK Home Office plan to scrap reporting of daily Channel crossings sparks conservative backlash

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

A number of high-profile conservative public figures in Britain have voiced their opposition to plans by the U.K. Home Office to stop reporting illegal immigration figures daily, opting instead to publish them on a quarterly basis.

Rumors of the home department’s intentions were leaked to the British press on Thursday, with critics arguing the government is attempting to suppress the reality of the concerning situation it faces on Britain’s southern border.

“This is a disgrace. The Home Office do not want us to know the truth,” tweeted conservative broadcaster, Nigel Farage, who has enjoyed a long history of locking horns with the U.K. Conservative Party over failed promises to reduce immigration levels.

His anger was shared by a number of Conservative backbench MPs, including Natalie Elphicke, the member of parliament for the Dover constituency which, due to its strategic location, bears the brunt of illegal arrivals coming by boat across the English Channel.

“We need to continue with daily updates,” insisted Elphicke. “To start reporting them on any other basis, I don’t think will be acceptable, particularly for such an important and immediate issue.

“Not having accurate daily figures risks misinformation being spread about the number of arrivals, and that would be highly damaging to the attempts to try to solve this long-standing crisis,” she added.

Her sentiments were echoed by fellow Conservative MP Philip Hollobone, who warned that “any attempt to hide the scale of the problem will raise alarm bells among everyone who is concerned about this,” and vowed to take the issue up with the Home Office to demand “maximum transparency” over the issue.

Alp Mehmet, chairman of the long-running immigration think tank, Migration Watch UK, told Nigel Farage during an interview on GB News that the proposal was “absolutely insane.”

“The fact is that people are not going to stand back and wait for the figures. I know that you’re going to be down there,” he said to Farage. “There’s going to be lots of journalists there — it’s all going to come out anyway!”

“It is also undemocratic,” Mehmet claimed. “Why would they want to keep these figures to themselves?”

The Migration Watch UK chairman revealed his organization was in the process of launching a petition against the Home Office decision, a move that is likely to play very well with conservatives across the country.

An Office for Statistics Regulation spokesman said: “We understand that migrant English Channel crossings are currently an area of strong public interest and we also understand that the department is of the view that a quarterly publication will ensure the statistics are put into the longer-term and wider immigration and asylum context and so better support the public debate and understanding.

“We have urged the department to take account of user need for a more frequent publication, which would include information on the strengths and limitations of these statistics and how this impacts use,” they added.

Already this year, Britain has seen a sharp increase in the number of migrants crossing the English Channel with reports indicating arrivals could end up being more than double that of last year’s already record figure.

“So far this month we’ve reached nearly 1,000 – that’s over four times what we had for the whole of last January, so the numbers are clearly going up! Who knows? 65,000 may be a conservative estimate,” Mehmet warned.

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