And they came close – eventually security staff were forced to turn a fire hose on 85 migrants as they ran up the main ramp into the ferry’s vehicle hold.

The shocking incident took place on Wednesday afternoon, with P&O Ferries confirming that a ‘huge intrusion’ had occurred.

Passenger John Bailey told the BBC: “The migrants were escorted back down the ramp by the police and led out of the port, shouting at some people in the vehicle queue.

“The ship was delayed by about 45 minutes whilst a search was carried out.”

A second attempt – made by about 150 migrants who also succeeded in gaining entrances to the port – was frustrated when police moved in to detain them.

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