Rishi Sunak says migrants crackdown needed as current system ‘unfair on British people’ | Political News

Rishi Sunak has said the crackdown on small boats crossing the Channel is needed as the current system that is being exploited is “unfair on the British people”.

The prime minister described the new Illegal Migration Bill as “tough, but it is necessary and it is fair”.

“This will always be a compassionate and generous country… but the current situation is neither moral nor sustainable, it cannot go on. It is completely unfair on the British people.”

Acknowledging some of the criticism of the bill, Mr Sunak said “we have tried it every other way, and it hasn’t worked”.

Responding to a question by Sky News about where predecessors went wrong and why this policy is different, Mr Sunak said: “This is not about dwelling on the past because the situation has just got far worse.

“In the last two years the numbers of people crossing the Channel illegally has more than quadrupled. That is the scale of what is happening.

“It’s not just us, this is happening across Europe… that’s because globally this is a challenge.”

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When pressed on what success would look like, the prime minister refused to set specific targets, saying it is “us stopping the boats” and “having a system where people coming here illegally are returned”.

“And if we can get that working… we will see the numbers come down,” he said.

Mr Sunak was speaking from Downing Street after the home secretary unveiled the new legislation that will mean people arriving on small boats in the UK will be “removed swiftly”.

Campaigners have said there is nothing “fair, humane or even practical” in the plans, which the government has admitted might not be compatible with European human rights laws.

The prime minister told the press conference his government is “up for the fight” in the courts “and we are confident we will win”.

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Under the proposed plan:

  • People arriving on small boats will be detained within the first 28 days without bail or judicial review and can be detained after that if there is a reasonable prospect of removal
  • The onus to remove those who enter illegally will be on the home secretary – to “radically” narrow the number of challenges and appeals
  • Only those under 18, those medically unfit to fly or at “real risk” of serious harm in the country they are removed to be able to lodge an appeal to stop them from being deported
  • Any other claims, including the right to private or family life, will be heard remotely after they have been removed.
  • People will be prevented from using modern slavery laws to oppose their removal
  • Deportation can only be deferred for modern slavery when a person is cooperating with law enforcement agencies in trafficking investigations
  • An annual cap on the number of people entering via safe routes – to be set by parliament – will “ensure an orderly system”
  • A lifetime ban on settlement, citizenship and re-entry to the UK for those removed under the scheme.

Mr Sunak confirmed that the legislation would apply retrospectively, affecting everyone arriving in the UK illegally from Tuesday.

Earlier, Home Secretary Suella Braverman told the Commons that she “can’t say definitely” if the new bill complies with human rights laws.

But Mr Sunak insisted there is “absolutely nothing improper or unprecedented” about pursuing legislation with a warning that they may not be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

“We believe we are acting in compliance with international law, in compliance with the ECHR, and if challenged, as you may well be right, we’ve seen in these matters we do get challenged, we will fight that hard because we believe we ‘re doing the right thing and it is compliant with our obligations,” he added.


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