The Prime Minister has said the Labour Party need to answer the question of how the Rwanda legislation gets through Parliament, saying he is ‘absolutely committed’ to delivering a deterrent.
Speaking to the GB News People’s Forum, Rishi Sunak said:
“I think illegal migration is profoundly unfair. I actually think our country is based on a sense of fairness. We play by the rules. Illegal migration erodes that sense of trust in our system.
“There’s the pressure on public services. Many of you would have seen your local hotel, like mine, and like many others, taken over to house illegal migrants. It’s costing all of you and everyone watching something like £7 million – £8 million a day. And that’s not something that is sustainable.
“The plans we put in place are working. We’re making progress. Illegal migration is a good example of that. Last year, for the first time since the small boats thing became a phenomenon, the numbers were down. They were down by over a third.
“Meanwhile, in the rest of Europe, they were up by quite a lot.
“That didn’t happen by accident, it happened because we worked really hard on lots of different things to start getting the numbers down.
“You may have heard about the new deal with Albania, which means that when people illegally migrate from Albania to here, because of the deal that they struck with Albania, we’re able to return them.
“We returned something like 5000 last year. What do you know? They stopped coming; numbers were down by 90%.
“We’ve increased our cooperation with the French joint patrols on the beaches sharing intelligence, placing barriers in some of the rivers that lead up to the beaches in France. That’s helped make sure that the interception rates remain strong.
“We started fighting crime upstream in Europe before people get anywhere close to the channel. We pass laws that allow us to arrest people connected with this awful trade.
“In the last 15-18 months. We’ve arrested almost a thousand people and we’re starting to sentence up to hundreds of years in jail.
“We’ve done thousands of illegal enforcement raids: all of those things are helping us to get the numbers down, which is why they’re down by a third.
“The plan is working but in order to fully solve this problem, we need a deterrent. We need to be able to say pretty simply and unequivocally that if you come to our country illegally, you won’t get to stay.
“We want to be able to remove you; either to your home country if it’s safe, like we’ve done with Albania. And for everyone else, we need an alternative and that’s what Rwanda is about.
“So yes, we’ve made progress but in order to fully solve this problem, we need a deterrent. That’s what Rwanda is all about and that is why I’m absolutely committed to getting this bill through Parliament and getting this scheme up and running.
“And without that we won’t be able to fully solve this problem.
“We are committed to getting it through Parliament, but unfortunately, [Labour] have a majority in the House of Lords.
“Everyone else right now, as we speak, is lining up to do deals in the House of Lords to block us right. We’ve already seen that in the Commons. They will keep doing that in the House of Lords, but I will keep going.
“I am absolutely committed. I fought very hard for this legislation. It’s the toughest legislation anyone’s seen. It will make sure that we can implement and operationalise this scheme and get flights off and get that deterrent working. And that’s what I’m going to do.
“And the question really is why is everyone else lining up to try and stop me? Because I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think that’s what the country wants. We can’t stop the boats unless we get the scheme up and running.”