Rishi Sunak gets tough on small boats to remove illegal migrants

Rishi Sunak today pledged to “take back control of our borders” with tough new laws on small boats. The Prime Minister made the comments at a Downing Street press conference this evening.

Setting out plans to curb Channel crossings, Mr Sunak said: “We are introducing legislation to make clear that if you come here illegally, you can’t claim asylum. You can’t benefit from our modern slavery protection. You can’t make serious human rights claims and you can’t stay.

“We will detain those who come here illegally and then remove them in weeks, either to their own country if it is safe to do so, or to a safe third country like Rwanda.

“And once you are removed, you will be banned – as you are in America and Australia – from ever re-entering our country.”

Asked if he would have failed if he had not “stopped the boats” by the next general election, the PM said: “I wouldn’t be standing here if I didn’t think that I could deliver on this promise.”

Mr Sunak said the UK will be “constrained” in its ability to take in refugees if the flow of rubber dinghies across the English Channel is not stemmed.

He said: “If we can’t stop the boats our ability to help genuine refugees in future will be constrained. Full control of our borders will allow us to decide who to help, and to provide safe and legal routes to those most in need.

“I understand there will be debate about the toughness of these measures. All I can say is we’ve tried it every other way and it has not worked.

“It’s this country and your Government who should decide who comes here, not criminal gangs.”

It comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman today unveiled plans for new laws to curb Channel crossings.

Under the Illegal Migration Bill, asylum seekers will be detained and “swiftly removed” if they arrive in the UK through unauthorised means.

People crossing the Channel will not be able to claim asylum in the UK and will face a lifetime ban on returning after they are removed and they will never be allowed to settle in the country or gain citizenship.

Ms Braverman told MPs today: “For a Government not to respond to waves of illegal migrants breaching our borders would be to betray the will of the people we were elected to serve.”

Speaking in the Commons, she added: “They will not stop coming here until the world knows that if you enter Britain illegally you will be detained and swiftly removed.

“Removed back to your country if it is safe, or to a safe third country like Rwanda. And that is precisely what this Bill will do. That is how we will stop the boats.”

But the proposals have been widely condemned by charities and human rights organisations.

The PM made getting a grip on Channel crossings one of his five priorities for his premiership.

Tackling the problem is seen as crucial to the Conservatives’ chances at the next general election.

A record 45,755 migrants made the dangerous journey across the Channel from France last year.

And more than 3,000 have already made the journey so far this year.

Home Office figures show 197 made the crossing on Monday, taking the total to date to 3,150.

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