5th June 2023 – (London) U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has stated that his plan to curb the number of migrants arriving in small boats has reduced crossings by 20 per cent. Sunak, who is expected to lead the Conservative Party into a national election next year, has promised to “stop the boats” from crossing the English Channel as one of his five pledges after he was propelled to power in October last year. However, he has faced criticism from members of his own party and the public for not acting quickly enough.
“In the five months since I launched the plan, crossings are now down 20 per cent compared to last year,” Sunak said at a news conference in southern England. “The plan is working,” he added, while acknowledging that his government was not complacent and would work hard to ensure that parliament passed a new law.
The opposition Labour Party criticised Sunak for failing to clear the backlog of tens of thousands of asylum claims and said that 7,600 people had crossed the English Channel so far this year, a total that is likely to increase over the summer months.
Despite the challenges, Sunak is keen to show that his plan of securing agreements with other European countries to reduce the numbers arriving and a toughening of the UK’s stance on immigration can produce results. He said a deal with Albania had meant that Britain was returning more migrants to the country and that London was increasing its provision of accommodation for those awaiting immigration decisions. Sunak also stated that the government had secured two new vessels to house migrants and move them out of hotels.
Sunak urged parliament to pass his new Illegal Migration Bill, which would allow for the swift detention and deportation of people arriving on small boats back to their homeland or to so-called safe third countries such as Rwanda. He said, “My policy is very simple: It is this country – and your government – who should decide who comes here, not criminal gangs. I will do what is necessary to achieve it. I said I would stop the boats and I meant it.”
While Sunak’s update on reducing crossings is a positive step, the issue of illegal migration remains a complex and challenging one. The government must continue to work towards finding effective solutions that address the root causes of migration and ensure that the UK’s immigration policies are fair, just and sustainable.