RISHI Sunak has acknowledged the intricate challenges in curbing small boat crossings across the English Channel, refraining from an absolute guarantee of a resolution by the upcoming general election. Sunak has emphasised his dedication to halting these crossings, noting a decline in the number of illegal migrants undertaking perilous journeys this year.
During a visit to a North Yorkshire nursery, the Prime Minister addressed the issue. He clarified his commitment, stating, “One of my five priorities is to stop the boats.” Sunak criticised the existing system for its lack of sustainability and fairness, specifically highlighting the financial burden on British taxpayers who fund housing for illegal migrants.
Sunak’s stance is that this multifaceted problem cannot be immediately rectified. He indicated, “It’s not an easy problem to fix… but I am pleased that the number of illegal migrants crossing this year is down for the first time in some years.” He conveyed that this positive trend validates the effectiveness of their strategies, yet acknowledged that further work is needed. He stated firmly, “People should know I am determined to grip this problem, and that’s why one of my five priorities is to stop the boats.”
The Prime Minister was forthright about the complexity of the situation and his refusal to make unrealistic promises, asserting, “I want it to be done as soon as possible, but I also want to be honest with people that it is a complex problem… I wouldn’t be being straight with people if I said that was possible.”
During his visit, Sunak also defended plans to house migrants at an RAF base in Lincolnshire, which raised concerns due to its historical significance tied to the Second World War Dambusters raid. Sunak assured that the Home Office is engaging with local stakeholders to address concerns about the RAF Scampton relocation.
Responding to criticism about the impact on local businesses from housing migrants in Lincolnshire hotels, Sunak emphasized the importance of bolstering the local economy while taking measures to stop boat crossings. He highlighted a new parliamentary law designed to reduce taxpayer expenditures on housing illegal migrants in hotels, citing the need to curb millions of pounds spent daily.
In an effort to reduce accommodation costs, the government has turned to options like the Bibby Stockholm barge and repurposed military bases. However, the plan faced setbacks as migrants were temporarily removed from the Bibby Stockholm due to the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water supply. The Prime Minister’s spokesperson reassured that steps are being taken to ensure appropriate accommodation, in coordination with contractors and necessary tests.