Rishi Sunak ‘over-promised’ on stopping small boats and will fail to deliver by election, seniors fear

Senior Tories fear Rishi Sunak is “over-promising” to fix the small boat crisis and will fail to deliver in time for the next general election.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel so far this year is more than double the number seen at the same point in 2022, despite the Prime Minister pledging to “stop the boats” one of his five key promises to the British public.

Mr Sunak claimed the new laws would ensure “if you come here illegally, you won’t be able to stay”, but The independent understands that the final details of the legislation have not yet been fully drafted.

Tory MPs are growing increasingly concerned about the legislation, launching a series of parliamentary questions to the prime minister and home secretary.

said a former minister The independent that even if the law moves forward next week, it will face strong opposition and could be mired in new legal challenges.

“They have over-promised and now they realize the clock is ticking,” added the MP. “Every week people stand up at PMQs [prime minister’s questions] saying ‘where is the legislation’?’

The bill is expected to be published on Tuesday. Under the proposals, those coming to the UK via an unauthorized route would be detained for up to 28 days before attempts are made to deport them to their country of origin or to Rwanda, according to reports.

However, the former Tory minister believes lengthy parliamentary procedures will take the law to the next sitting of parliament, meaning nothing will “work” until the next general election.

Meanwhile, internal Home Office estimates predict a further rise in small boat crossings this year, after back-to-back annual records as previous “deterrence” attempts failed.

Almost 3,000 people have crossed the Channel so far this year, more than double the 1,400 seen at the same point in 2022, which was itself a record year.

A former cabinet minister expressed concern that Mr Sunack may not be able to reduce the numbers, adding: “A lot of people are pinning their hopes on the fact that the Northern Ireland protocol means the French will help. But he must try, that is the political reality. People need to see these numbers come down – and before the next election.”

The government has yet to fully implement last year’s Nationality and Borders Act, which has so far failed to achieve its aim of making small boat migrants “inadmissible” for asylum.

Rishi Sunak vows that canal crossings will stop if he becomes prime minister

With Rwanda’s program stalled amid ongoing legal challenges and an EU-wide deal on returns not replaced after Brexit, there are few countries to which they will send asylum seekers even if the UK refuses to consider their requests.

A senior Tory MP said The independent Many moderates in the party backed a ban on asylum claims for people arriving on small boats, but added: “It’s a real challenge to make it legally sound and there are logistical problems if you have to detain more people.

“But you hope it can stop so many people from coming here, we have to try something.”

Another senior Tory MP, who also backs a ban on asylum for those arriving by small boat, said there was concern about potential legal challenges and warned: “Whether it’s possible remains to be seen.”

The government has not provided details of how people will be prevented from seeking asylum without the UK breaching the UN Refugee Convention.

Home Office figures show Afghans are now the largest group of small boat migrants, having overtaken Albanians in the autumn. Although 98 percent of asylum applications from Afghanistan are granted, ministers did not rule out sending them to Rwanda.

Mr Sunak said the new powers would help fulfill his promise to “stop the boats once and for all”, writing in Mail on Sunday: “Make no mistake, if you come here illegally, you won’t be able to stay.”

Rishi Sunak has been facing parliamentary questions from backbenchers on delays to the law

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Rishi Sunak has faced parliamentary questions from supporters about delays in the law

(Living Parliament)

Several Tory MPs demanded to know when the law would be brought forward, with former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey warning: “Time is of the essence.”

Experts and charities have predicted that small boat crossings will continue to increase unless the government expands alternative routes.

said Stephen Kinnock, the shadow immigration secretary The independent: “Despite all the Prime Minister’s rhetoric, small boat crossings have skyrocketed to double what they were at this point last year.

“This is the inevitable consequence of the pathetic pursuit of headlines and gimmicky government, instead of serious solutions and hard work.”

The Refugee Council said the increase in Channel crossing points was “a direct consequence of safe routes being so limited and ineffective”.

Chief executive Enver Solomon added: “Government efforts to stop desperate people from crossing the Channel will continue to fail, simply because they do nothing to address the reasons people are coming. But the solution is clear: we need to create safe and regular routes for refugees to come to the UK.”

(Data: Ministry of Interior)

The Joint Council on Migrant Welfare said the planned new law “will do nothing to prevent dangerous crossings or save lives”.

Policy and advocacy officer Caitlin Boswell accused the government of “ignoring the evidence and creating a crisis”, adding: “To see Rishi Sunak announce yet another absurd anti-refugee law as the depth of the government’s failure is revealed is nothing short of by parody. “

The charity Care4Calais said small boat crossings would “continue to increase because our government’s anti-refugee rhetoric is no alternative to workable solutions”.

Ministers have confirmed that the government has no plans to create safe and legal routes for migrants crossing the Channel and have repeatedly claimed that people should seek asylum in the first safe country they reach.

said Ms. Braverman Sun on Sunday: “It must be that if you come here illegally you will be detained and removed quickly. Our laws will be simple in their intent and in their practice – the only route to the UK will be a safe and legal route.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “The public rightly expect us to stop the boats and fix our asylum system.

“We are taking immediate action to tackle the rise in dangerous and illegal crossings by speeding up returns and strengthening enforcement and will push forward new laws to restore fairness to our system and break the business model of people smugglers who profit from living in danger”.

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