Boris Johnson warned migrants looking to cross the English Channel to get to the UK: ‘We will send you back.’
The Prime Minister’s comments came after almost 100 people set off in small boats attempting to make the crossing from France in a single day.
It prompted Home Secretary Priti Patel to seek talks with her French counterpart to address the crisis.
Johnson said the government was ‘working very closely with the French authorities’ to stop migrants embarking on the ‘very hazardous’ journey.
He also warned those looking to cross: ‘We will send you back.’
‘Clearly the most important thing is to stop them coming across from France so we are working very closely with the French authorities,’ Johnson said.
‘The point I would just make to people thinking of making this journey – one, it is very hazardous, you may think the weather looks great but it’s a very, very dangerous thing to do.
‘The second thing is – we will send you back.
‘The UK should not be regarded as a place where you could automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally.
‘If you come illegally, you are an illegal migrant and I’m afraid the law will treat you as such.’
Authorities were called to at least seven incidents on Thursday involving 94 people who were trying to cross the water from France to get to the UK.
The wave of attempted crossings continued on Friday – with UK border officers understood to have been called to the Kent coast near Lydd.
Earlier that morning, the French coastguard said 24 migrants, reportedly including a woman and seven children, were also found trying to cross the Channel.
Dover MP Charlie Elphicke said on Twitter: ‘Only when migrants and traffickers alike know that they will not succeed in crossing the English Channel will this crisis come to an end.’
The Home Office has now confirmed it dealt with 64 people, including at least six children, who tried to reach England in small boats in six separate incidents on Thursday.
French authorities said they found 30 migrants, including 11 children, attempting to make the crossing on the same day.
The Home Office said all of them were returned to the continent.
A Home Office spokeswoman said attempting such crossings was a ‘huge risk’ and ‘the criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life’.
‘Since January, we have returned more than 65 people who arrived illegally in small boats to Europe.
‘We continue to monitor the ongoing situation and are working closely at all levels with French authorities on the issue.
‘The Home Secretary will raise this issue with her French counterpart in the coming days.’