Home Secretary Sajid Javid is facing calls to send in the Royal Navy after he declared the rising number of migrants attempting to cross the English Channel a "major incident".
Mr Javid announced he was seeking an urgent call with his French counterpart, after holding talks with Border Force officials and the National Crime Agency, to address the problem following a spate of attempts by migrants to cross to the UK by boat.
Immigration minister Caroline Nokes will assess the situation during a visit to Border Force offices in Dover on Saturday.
She will be joined by the Kent port’s MP, Charlie Elphicke, who has called for more patrol boats in the Channel to tackle trafficking gangs.
But there have been calls for Mr Javid to go further and bring in the Royal Navy before the crisis escalates into a catastrophe.
Independent MP and home affairs committee member John Woodcock, told The Sun: The public is losing confidence in the struggling Border Force. It’s time to stop the rot by sending in the Royal Navy.
If the civilian force can’t cope, the navy must stop this crisis becoming a catastrophe.
And another committee member, Conservative MP Tim Loughton told the newspaper: There is a serious security implication, as this is a likely route undesirables who have been fighting in Syria will use if they want to return to the UK.
Of course there is now a case for the Royal Navy to be brought in to do border protection in the Channel.
Two separate groups of migrants attempting to enter the UK by boat were picked up on Friday, totalling 12 people.
Some of them are being treated for hypothermia.
Dozens more migrants have been rescued in recent days, with the numbers described as deeply concerning by the government.
The Home Office said there was concern that it is only a matter of time before people lose their lives.
It added plans are being drawn up for possible solutions, including scrambling more boats to the coast.
The department said in a statement that Mr Javid held a conference call with the relevant arms of government.
The statement said: He has insisted the Home Office treat the situation as a major incident and has appointed a Gold Commander and asked for daily updates.
Organised crime gangs are blamed for arranging the crossings.
Officials intercepted 23 Iranians in the Channel on Thursday, including three children, and a further 43 people were picked up over Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Human rights group Amnesty UK’s refugee and migrant rights programme director Steve Valdez-Symonds said: It’s extremely worrying that women, men and children have been compelled to undertake such very dangerous sea crossings in an attempt to find a place of safety and security.
The home secretary needs to understand that we’re in this situation because of the persistent refusal of our government and others to share responsibility in providing asylum and safe passage to people fleeing desperate situations.
This has left people with no other option than to take extreme risks to find safety – often at the hands of ruthless or careless smuggling gangs.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has called for better co-operation with the French authorities.
She said: We have a duty to those at risk in British waters, but we also have a duty to refugees, many of whom are fleeing war poverty and persecution.
Our focus needs to be much better co-operation with the French authorities, and European nations as a whole to create safe and legal routes for those seeking asylum.
No one should feel they have no option but to risk their lives in this way.
A former senior Home Office official has said smugglers are emboldened by the fact that UK lifeboats are rescuing travellers out at sea – with the rescuers then taking them on to dry land where they can claim asylum.
David Wood, who used to lead immigration enforcement, warned there could be a tragedy unless the government changed its policy to stop migrants coming rather than rescuing them and landing them in the UK.
He said: Britain’s border force, coastguards and lifeboats are being used as a taxi service for migrants.
As far as organised crime is concerned, it’s de-risked their business.