Sunak unveils fresh plans to crack down on Channel crossings

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The Prime Minister said “enough is enough” as he unveiled a raft of new measures to curb Channel crossings and tackle the backlog of asylum claims.

Rishi Sunak told the Commons “unless we act now and decisively, this will only get worse” as he set out a five-point plan in a bid to grip the migrant crisis.

Human rights campaigners branded the plans “deeply disturbing” and accused the Government of treating asylum seekers like criminals.

The latest Home Office figures show there were more than 143,000 asylum seekers waiting for a decision on their claims, in the year to September while nearly 100,000 had been waiting more than six months.

More than 44,000 people have crossed the Channel to the UK this year, Government figures show.

Mr Sunak told MPs: “I said enough is enough and I mean it. And that means I am prepared to do what must be done.”

He vowed to:

– Establish a “new, permanent, unified small boats operational command”, bringing together military and civilian staff and the National Crime Agency to coordinate “intelligence, interception, processing, and enforcement” with a boost to funding and staffing.

– Ramp up immigration raids to crack down on illegal working.

– End the use of hotels to house asylum seekers. instead moving them to disused holiday parks, former student halls and surplus military sites. As well as working as “quickly as possible” to see “all local authorities take their fair share of asylum seekers” in private rented accommodation.

– Abolish the backlog of asylum claims by end of next year after hiring more caseworkers and overhauling the system for processing applications.

– Address the numbers of Albanian migrants crossing the Channel with a new agreement with the country’s government and reform modern slavery rules.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dungeness, Kent, after being rescued by the RNLI following a small boat incident in the Channel on Friday
More than 44,000 people have crossed the Channel so far this year (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Mr Sunak also promised to restart flights to send migrants to Rwanda and introduce new legislation in 2023 to make it “unambiguously clear that if you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here.

“Instead, you will be detained and swiftly returned either to your home country or to a safe country where your claim for asylum will be considered.

“And you will no longer be able to frustrate removal attempts with late or spurious claims or appeals. Once removed you should have no right to re-entry, settlement, or citizenship.”

The only way to come to the UK for asylum will be “through safe and legal routes”, he said, adding: “As we get a grip of illegal migration, we will create more of those routes” with an “annual quota on numbers set by Parliament”.

Mr Sunak insisted this was the “fair way to address this global challenge” and warned: “Tackling this problem will not be quick. It will not be easy. But it is the right thing to do.

“Because we cannot persist with a system that was designed for a different era. We have to stop the boats. And this Government will do what must be done.

“We will be tough but fair.”

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