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The government has threatened to deploy "maritime assets" – reported to include the Royal Navy – to stem the growing number of migrants trying to cross the English Channel.

Sources told Sky News the response may be scaled up after a record 235 people in 17 boats were intercepted trying to land on the Kent coast on Thursday.

Sky News understands more than 100 suspected migrants on 11 boats were intercepted in the Channel on Friday morning.

Image: Eleven people were seen on one small boat on Friday morning
Migrants crossing to Dover
Image: Migrants were taken to the Port of Dover

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told Sky News he is "frustrated" about the situation.

He said the immigration minister Chris Philp, who discussed the issue with France's deputy ambassador on Wednesday, would visit France next week to discuss ways to "increase co-operation and intelligence sharing to police crossings".

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"We all want to see these crossings reduced," he said.

"We remain committed to making sure that happens."

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Government sources confirmed to Sky News that the Home Office is "looking at what maritime assets" it may need to deal with the issue.

Reports in several newspapers said the Navy could be sent in to turn back migrant boats but the government has tried to downplay this.

However, Mr Sunak refused to deny the Navy could be used, telling Sky News: "I wouldn't want to speculate on exactly what measures will be put in place.

"It's important that we work closely with our French allies on this situation.

"Obviously France is a safe country for migrants to be. We all want to see these crossings reduced and, pending the outcomes of those conversations, we can decide on the best next steps to take."

The conditions in the Channel are more favourable than usual for crossing
Image: The conditions in the Channel are more favourable than usual for crossing
Border Force cutters rescued migrants from small dinghys
Image: Border Force cutters took the migrants onto land

Mr Philp said the UK would be returning as many migrants as possible to France and that return flights were scheduled over the coming days.

The immigration minister added that 22 people smugglers have been jailed in the UK so far this year, and two more were charged last weekend.

Thursday's record was set only a week after the previous highest number of migrants – 202 – crossed in a day.

In July, more than 1,100 migrants arrived in the UK, a figure that is almost as high as May and June combined.

The rising number of migrants making the risky crossing over the Channel has risen as evictions from the Calais "jungle" migrant camp in France are said to have reached their highest numbers since 2016 – something the Calais authorities deny.

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