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Self-declared ‘war tourist’ aims to sail £15 dinghy along Channel refugee route

By Lucy Thackray
Getty Images/iStockphoto

A provocative “war tourist” has claimed he will sail the English channel in a dinghy, following the route plied by desperate refugees coming to the UK.

“I’m about to do a very silly and impulsive trip but I need some help. Where do the immigrants in France usually put their inflatable boats in the water to paddle to England?” wrote Miles Routledge, who tweets as @Real_Lord_Miles.

He posted an image of an Amazon.co.uk listing for a £14.99 inflatable dinghy with the statement.

Taking the trend for dark tourism - in which travellers purposefully visit locations tied to war, conflict or suffering - to the extreme, Mr Routledge considers himself a “war tourist”. He has travelled to Afghanistan and taken selfies with the Taliban.

In February, Mr Routledge travelled to Ukraine and claimed it was safer to be in than Birmingham and London.

In the same Twitter thread, Mr Routledge jokes that the £15 dinghy has “more leg room than Ryanair” and adds: “For reference, I’m definitely not helping the illegals, if I find them, I’m calling the UK coastguard to stop them lmao.”

Nicknamed the “death route”, the shortest route between the French coast and the UK is around 33km, usually translating to around seven hours in a small boat for those desperate enough to attempt it.

In January, it was revealed that more than 28,000 migrants crossed the Channel by small boat in 2021 - more than three times the total for 2020 - with more than 1,000 arriving on a single day.

In November, the English Channel saw its worst-ever migrant tragedy after a packed inflatable dinghy sank mid-crossing, with 27 losing their lives.

Mr Routledge has amassed more than 113,000 Twitter followers with his provocative missions, with many cheering on stunts that appear in poor taste to others.

In his Twitter bio, he boasts of having travelled to “south Sudan, Kazakhstan riots, Ukraine” and having had “tea with Taliban”.

“Most boats don’t make it, it’s really sad and horrendous, trust me don’t do this,” replied Twitter user Will Crabtree.

If a follow-up tweet, Mr Routledge added that he’d have to cross to the Isle of Wight rather than the English coast for logistical reasons.

“I’ve been told even though I’m doing everything legally with the yellow Q flag, radio and C1331 form, they may cause issues for me returning from France so I’ll do 10 miles to the isle of Wight and back,” he said.

As part of the dark tourism trend, some travellers are opting to visit scenes of conflict or political tension, such as North Korea’s demilitarised zone or Chernobyl, which opened the doors to its reactor four control room in 2019.

The Independent has approached Miles Routledge for comment.

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Dive Deeper:
Ukraine refugees who enter UK via Ireland may be sent to Rwanda, MPs told
Minister also refuses to say whether Ukrainians who cross Channel in small boats could be sent to Africa
Daughter begs Government to save mum from Afghanistan and blasts Tory 'double standards'
Shabnam Nishat's mum has been in hiding in Afghanistan since thousands of troops were dispatched to Kabul to rescue UK…
Phuket, Koh Samui keen on 'endemic' status boost
The private sector in Phuket and Koh Samui has thrown its weight behind a proposal by the Public Health Ministry…
A bridge too far for Russian invaders as almost a whole unit wiped out
Military experts agree that crossing any river in the middle of a conflict is not easy. But the Russian army’s…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Poll: Economy likely grew modestly in Q1
Thailand's economy likely grew modestly in the first quarter, thanks to robust exports and an easing of Covid-19 restrictions and…
Ukrainian refugee: Family’s future unknown but we hope for something better
Elena Sidorova is planning to start a new life in Germany or Austria with her husband Vladimir and their three…
Get all your news in one place