FOR a variety of reasons, the British people do want an end to small boats crossing the English Channel bringing a cargo of migrants.

The most important of those reasons is that this is an extremely dangerous method of trying to reach Britain, with people dying on a weekly basis.

Rishi Sunak made stopping the boats one of his five priorities and so yesterday was quick to jump on figures showing the number of crossings had reduced by nearly 20 per cent in the first three months of the year. Mr Sunak could have a large dollop of egg on his face if these figures turn out to be a blip and the decrease is due to bad weather rather than a genuine change in the trend.

Mr Sunak is also right to say that the £6m-a-day that Britain spends on keeping migrants in hotels is unsustainable. The two new barges, a rather heartless way of tackling the problem, will only 1,000 people each – a drop in the ocean when there are 172,758 asylum claims awaiting an outcome.

This is where the problem is. Mr Sunak knows that and is addressing it, but such is its enormity, it will still be hanging over the Conservatives’ head at the next election. It has built up on their watch.

Mr Sunak wants to look tough on immigration for a variety of his own reasons. He wants to look competent, as a man who addresses a tough problem, gets things done and stops migration.

But last year, 45,756 migrants arrived on boats, just a small portion to the net figure of 606,000 migrants who settled in Britain. The small boats are very visible, but bigger migration problems lie elsewhere.