‘Stop the boats’: Rishi Sunak slams ‘broken’ asylum system in the UK, says more routes will be opened for Ukrainians

'Stop the boats': Rishi Sunak slams 'broken' asylum system in the UK, says more routes will be opened for Ukrainians


Illegal immigration has over the years emerged as a major concern in the United Kingdom. There have been reports that several criminal gangs and lawyers work in collusion to draw in illegal immigrants through the English Channel on small boats. According to official statistics, the number of people entering the UK on small boats in 2022 exceeded 45,700, constituting a 60% increase over the 28,500 who came in in 2021.

On Tuesday, July 25, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak alleged that the Labour Party, several lawyers and criminal gangs have teamed up to prop up a “system of exploitation” that profits from getting illegal refugees into the UK. To back his assertion, PM Sunak shared a Daily Mail investigative report about lawyers helping illegal immigrants claim asylum by providing false evidence. 

Taking to Twitter, the British Prime Minister posted a long thread wherein he discussed his plan to stop illegal immigrants from entering and seeking asylum in the UK. It is worth noting that PM Sunak in January this year announced his top five priorities which include halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing debt, cutting NHS waiting lists, and to “stop the boats”.

“This is what we’re up against. The Labour Party, a subset of lawyers, criminal gangs – they’re all on the same side, propping up a system of exploitation that profits from getting people to the UK illegally. I have a plan to stop it, PM Sunak tweeted.

Notably, the Daily Mail report claims that several lawyers are charging exorbitant amounts to the tune of £10,000  to provide false evidence and cook up a fake but horrific back story to use in the asylum application. “This includes claims of sexual torture, beatings, slave labor, false imprisonment, and death threats that left them suicidal and compelled to flee to the UK,” the report reads.

In the second tweet, Sunak talked about the newly passed Illegal Migration Bill which mandates that only those who enter the UK through safe and legal routes will be allowed to seek asylum in the country.

“First, I recently passed laws that will mean if you come to the UK illegally: You can’t claim asylum. You can’t misuse our modern slavery protections. You can’t make false human rights claims. You can’t stay. These laws go further than any government has gone before,” Sunak tweeted.

Illegal Migration Bill 

Illegal-Migration Bill mandates that only those who enter the UK through safe and legal routes will be allowed to seek asylum in the country. while the illegal entrants will be sent back to their home country or to another safe country like Rwanda where their asylum claim can be considered. The bill also bars re-entry, settlement, or citizenship bids for people once sent back or removed. The bill further states that an annual cap will be placed on the number of legal immigrants seeking asylum. 

According to an official factsheet, the asylum system of the UK is “broken”, stressing what necessitated the Illegal Migration Bill was a sharp increase in the number of illegal infiltrators entering the UK on small boats last year. These illegal immigrants make dangerous journeys with many losing their lives while trying to make their way into the UK through the country’s busiest shipping lane. The British government also deems these small boat journeys unnecessary as many of such asylum seekers come from safe countries like France, where they can claim asylum. 

Moreover, these illegal immigrants are ensnared into paying huge amounts of money which is used in committing other crimes.  

In terms of the money spent by the UK government on refugees each year, the government claims that more than £3 billion was spent on refugees last year. Furthermore, £6 million is spent each day on hotel accommodations for immigrants awaiting judgment. Interestingly, asylum seekers in the United Kingdom are entitled to free accommodation. 

UK-France deal to curb small boat crossings

British Prime Minister Sunak in another tweet mentioned securing the “largest ever” small boats deal with France. Sunak asserted that the said deal will ensure 40 percent more patrols on French beaches adding that the first 60 French reservists will be deployed this week. “This will help us stop the boats at source before they cross the Channel,” Sunak’s tweet reads. 

Notably, in March this year, Britain and France signed a deal worth £500 million.  The British government pledged £500 million to France for the latter to build a detention center in Dunkirk to prevent illegal immigrants from leaving France on small boats, doubling the number of patrolling officers to 800, and setting up a joint command center.

Rishi Sunak boasts about UK-Albania deal regarding illegal migration

The British Prime Minister further stated that after he negotiated a deal with Albania to deter and deport illegal immigrants and foreign national offenders (FNOs), the UK government has sent back over 2500 such illegal immigrants. Moreover, Sunak asserted that a third of all small boat crossings were Albanians and this is now reduced by 90 percent. 

“I’ve negotiated a deal with Albania to make it easier to deport and deter illegal migrants and FNOs. We’ve returned over 2,500. A third of all small boat crossings were Albanian. Now they’re down 90%. This issue requires international collaboration – the UK is leading the way,” PM Sunak tweeted. 

It is pertinent to recall that the United Kingdom and Albania signed a “gold-standard” deal in December last year, wherein the two nations agreed on leading a joint fight against illegal immigration and organized crimes. The deal came after over 12000 Albanians arrived in the UK via the English Channel. In June, British Migration Minister Robert Jenrick said that thousands of such Albanian migrants including failed asylum seekers, FNOs, and voluntary returnees have been sent back since the signing of the deal. 

Last year, Albanians were reportedly the most prominent nationality seeking asylum in the United Kingdom. In 2022, there were 14,223 applications from Albanian nationals, 9,573 of which came from migrants arriving in boats after crossing the Channel. With 10,011 applications, Afghans were the second most prevalent nationality seeking asylum last year.

50% increase in raids on illegal workers

Sunak said that he increased raids on illegal workers by 50 percent. Sunak also talked about a raid conducted by enforcement officers wherein he joined them to witness a first-hand impact. 

“Third, I’ve increased raids by 50% to clamp down on illegal workers. I saw first-hand the impact this will have when I joined Immigration Enforcement officers last month for what was the biggest ever single day of raids,” the British prime minister tweeted. 

In June this year, PM Sunak joined the enforcement officials in a raid in Brent, North London wherein over 100 illegal migrants from 20 different nations were arrested. 

In addition to increased raids, PM Sunak announced the end of the “farce of illegal migrants being put up hotels by the taxpayer.”

As discussed above, the UK government currently spends £6 million each day on hotel accommodations for immigrants awaiting the decision. Notably, at the end of December last year, more than 132,000 cases pertaining to over 161,000 people were awaiting a decision.

‘Ukrainians welcome while others not allowed’

While the UK government is claiming to take stringent measures to control illegal migration, PM Sunak plans to ensure safe and legal routes for people in ‘genuine need’ like the Ukrainians escaping their war-torn country. 

“Fifth, I’m ensuring that the only way to come to the UK for asylum will be through safe and legal routes. And as we get a grip of illegal migration, we’ll create more of those routes so we can continue to help those in genuine need, like we have done for Ukrainians,” Sunak tweeted. 

According to the UNHCR data as of July 10, 2023, there are over 2 lakh Ukrainian refugees in the United Kingdom with 1200 applying for asylum or similar protection schemes.

Lastly, Sunak reiterated his priority to stop illegal migrants from entering Britain saying that he would “leave no stone unturned to get it done.”


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