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About 80 migrants rescued in the English Channel after making the risky crossing from France in a small boat

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LONDON (AP) — About 80 migrants were rescued at sea by British authorities Thursday after a small boat ran into difficulties crossing the English Channel from France.

The coastguard confirmed they had launched two helicopters following the incident, while the Royal National Lifeboat Institution sent rescue boats.

“The search has now been completed and all people have been located and back on land,” a coast guard spokesperson said.

The question of how to stop migrants making the dangerous crossing of the Channel is one of the key issues during the British election campaign.

Although the Conservative government has talked tough about restricting migrants, the number of migrants crossing is rising.

The Home Office said 34 people made the journey in one boat on Wednesday, bringing the preliminary total number of crossings for the year so far to 10,779. This is 42% more than this time last year and 8% higher than at the same point in 2022.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak vowed to “stop the boats” when he took the top job in October 2022, promoting his controversial deal to allow people arriving in small boats to a one-way ticket to Rwanda. Sunak says the Rwanda plan will act as a deterrent and has indicated deportation flights would begin in July – after the July 4 elections.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labor party, has said he will scrap the plan, describing it as a gimmick if he becomes prime minister. Opinion polls show Labor currently has a big lead over the Conservatives, with four weeks to go until election day.

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