13 December 2022

Key points in Sunak’s plan to tackle migrant crossings

13 December 2022

Rishi Sunak vowed to “do what must be done” as he set out a package of measures aimed at stopping people risking the dangerous crossing of the English Channel in small boats.

The Prime Minister said it was “unfair that people come here illegally” and declared: “We have to stop the boats.”

Here are some of the key measures set out by Mr Sunak in the Commons:

– A new agreement has been reached with Albania to return people to the country. Mr Sunak said a third of all those arriving in small boats this year – almost 13,000 – are from the “safe, prosperous European country”.

– Border Force officers will be embedded in Tirana airport, case workers will be issued with new guidance making it clear Albania is safe and rules around modern slavery will be tightened.

– Some 400 new specialists will work in a dedicated unit expediting cases, with weekly flights expected to take people back to Albania.

– New laws will make it “unambiguously clear” that “if you enter the UK illegally you should not be able to remain here”.

– Surplus military bases, disused holiday camps and former student halls of residence will be identified to provide accommodation for at least 10,000 people to help end the “unfair and appalling” £5.5 million spent every day on hotels to house asylum seekers.

– The number of asylum caseworkers will double and the process will be streamlined with the aim of abolishing the backlog of initial asylum decisions by the end of next year.

– A new “small boats operational command” will bring together the military, civilian officials and the National Crime Agency (NCA) to co-ordinate intelligence, interception, processing and enforcement, using drones for reconnaissance and surveillance.

– More than 700 new staff will be added, with funding doubled for the NCA to tackle organised immigration crime in Europe.

– Raids on illegal working will increase by 50%.

– Data sharing will be restarted to end the “frankly absurd” situation where “illegal migrants” can get bank accounts.

– The controversial policy of sending some people whose asylum claims have been rejected to Rwanda will begin once legal battles have finished.

– Parliament will set an annual quota for refugees to come to the country through safe and legal routes, in consultation with local authorities to determine capacity.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer dismissed the “unworkable gimmicks” set out by Mr Sunak.

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