Lifeboats rescued migrants after a reported  overnight standoff between two French naval ships and four migrant boats trying to cross the Channel in freezing temperatures.

Migrants in four small boats are reported to have told the French authorities they would jump into the sea if they could not pass into English waters during the incident on Saturday night (December 2).

RNLI crews from Eastbourne and Dungeness, in Kent, were called to the scene miles from the coast over safety concerns.

The Eastbourne boat then carried out a search mission when one of the migrant vessels disappeared from sight. It is understood they found the vessel.

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A total of 85 migrants were brought to shore, The Argus understands, however emergency services would not confirm where they landed.

“HM Coastguard coordinated the response to incidents involving small boats off Kent on December 2, working with Border Force and other partners,” said a coastguard spokeswoman.

“We sent two RNLI lifeboats. HM Coastguard will continue to work with search and rescue partners to respond to those in distress around the seas and coastal areas of the UK.”