Rishi Sunak claims his immigration plan is WORKING but faces surge in Channel crossings this summer

Rishi Sunak press conference

Rishi Sunak there was proof that his plan to tackle small boats was now working

GB News
Sam Montgomery

By Sam Montgomery

Published: 05/06/2023

- 10:01

Updated: 05/06/2023

- 23:17

Prime Minister branded his strategy a success despite voters accusing him of failing

Rishi Sunak this morning insisted that his plan to reduce immigration was working, but conceded there is still a "long way to go".

Holding a press conference in Dover the Prime Minister said small boat crossings were down 20 per cent compared to last year.

He said: “Our plan is starting to work. Before I launched my plan in December, the number entering the UK illegally in small boats had more than quadrupled in two years.

"Some said this problem was insoluble, or just a fact of 21st century life. They’d lost faith in politicians to put in the hard yards to do something about it. And of course, we still have a long way to go. But in the five months since I launched the plan, crossings are now down 20 per cent compared to last year.

Migrants leave a Royal Navy vessel

The Prime Minister travelled to Dover today to provide an update on the progress on tackling illegal migration


“This is the first time since this problem began that arrivals between January and May have fallen compared to the year before.

He suggested that the UK was doing better than other European countries, but said that the Government was not “complacent”.

“With grit and determination, the Government can fix this and we are using every tool at our disposal.”

Despite the claims by Sunak, experts point to bad weather so far in 2023 as being largely responsible for the fall in the number of boat crossings.

They warn that good weather this summer is likely to see a new surge in the number of migrants attempting to make the treacherous journey across the Channel.

Sunak cited perceived positives in the number of Albanians now amounting to one per cent of those crossing the Channel illegally, down from 30 per cent last year, following the negotiation of a returns agreement with the Albanian government.

Reports suggest that almost half of Albanians that enter Britain leave after several months, while tracking them down has been made difficult but up to 80 per cent of Albanians absconding from immigration bail.

Home Office figures suggest that if the current number of arrivals continues the government would be on track to spend up to £6billion over the next two years on detaining and deporting immigrants under the new migration bill.

Sunak’s trip to Dover comes as a new poll of 2,200 Brits conducted between 26 and 30 May has delivered a damning verdict on the public’s perceived progress on Sunak’s five priorities.

On easing the cost of living crisis, 60 per cent believe the Government is doing a bad job with just 18 per cent saying the government is doing a good job.

Likewise, 62 per cent thought the government was not delivering on reducing NHS waiting times and 50 per cent believe the government is doing a bad job at growing the economy.

Bibby Stockholm barge being towed on the water

The Bibby Stockholm barge set to house 500 single male migrants in Dorset


On each of the priorities, the poll found the public more likely to think a Labour government would do a better job.

A separate BMG poll conducted for The i newspaper found that two-thirds of the public believe levels of migration are too high.

Sunak this morning also shone a spotlight on Operation Maximise as an example of the deterrent tactics being rolled out by the government.

Operation Maximise requires asylum seekers to share hotel rooms in an effort to save more than £250million this year alone.

The Government is stepping up its plans to house 10,000 migrants in improvised and repurposed accommodation around the UK, including in two disused RAF airfields at Scampton in Lincolnshire and Wethersfield in Essex, Catterick barracks in North Yorkshire, and a former prison in Bexhill, East Sussex.

Five hundred single, male migrants are also due to be housed in a barge called the Bibby Stockholm in Portland, Dorset.

High court legal challenges have been sought by local councils in Scampton and Wethersfield but ministers hope to open the locations by August to relieve pressure on the processing centre at Manston, near Dover.

Sunak announced the Government was planning for a further two ships to house migrants, accommodating another thousand people.

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