Rishi Sunak snaps: Visibly angry PM hits back at GB News exclusive as he defends migration record

Rishi Sunak snaps: Visibly angry PM hits back at GB News exclusive as he defends migration record
Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 07/12/2023

- 12:15

Updated: 07/12/2023

- 13:07

Sunak took questions from the media about his plan for immigration at a press conference at Downing Street

Rishi Sunak got visibly irritated after being asked about a GB News exclusive, which revealed the Government's Rwanda policy has become the butt of jokes amongst Channel migrants.

A key source close to the people smuggling operations told GB News that the threat of sending migrants to the East African nation had not deterred people from trying to reach the UK, and migrants are continuing to arrive in northern France in ever greater numbers.

Referencing the story, GB News' Political Editor Christopher Hope asked the Prime Minister at a Downing Street press conference: "So GB News has been in Calais, Prime Minister, where migrants have told us that they are laughing at the UK and it's Rwanda policy. "Are they right to laugh? Is your policy a joke and your government a laughing stock on this matter?"

In a tetchy response, the Prime Minister said: "Look at the results. So you've been over in Calais, France. Well the number of people crossing from France to the UK this year is down by a third. Right?

WATCH: Rishi Sunak answers a question from Christopher Hope

"That's the simple truth. We've arrested hundreds of people who have helped facilitate those crossings this year.

"Many of them have already been charged, they're gonna end up going to jail.

"People that have come illegally are having their bank accounts closed. 22,000 of them have been returned. And by the way, in the rest of Europe, none of that is happening because the numbers are up. They're up by 80 per cent in the Mediterranean. And so actually, what we're doing is making a difference.

"We're disrupting criminal gangs upstream before they get anywhere near Calais in the first place. We're working more closely with the French.

"For the first time we have British officers embedded in their patrols. Why? Because I went and struck a good arrangement with the French not for reasons of sentimentality, because it's in the British national interest, to have that cooperation on those beaches to stop people coming and that cooperation is working.

"You would have seen pictures of some of the barriers that were being put in rivers on the way up to the beaches, right?

"That's come as a result of that cooperation, stops people getting there in the first place. And the proof is in the pudding. Right? I'm not about talking, I'm about action.

"The numbers of people crossing from exactly where you were to the UK are down by a third.

"They quadrupled in the last few years and they're up everywhere else. So that should tell you tell me and tell the country that what we're doing is working."

He added: "It is making a difference, but we've got to finish the job. That's why this legislation is so important. That's why we've worked so hard on it. I'm absolutely confident that it's the right approach. It's the toughest ever approach. It will close down all the avenues that people have used in the past and crucially as I said, it is the only approach.

"Because going any further - that differences an inch - but going any further would mean that Rwanda will collapse the scheme and then we will have nowhere to send anyone to and that is not a way to get this going."

Sunak addressed the public from Downing Street in an attempt to defend his new Rwanda legislation.

This comes less than 24 hours after the shock resignation of his Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick, who stepped down last night.
In his resignation statement, Jenrick said he "cannot continue" in his post given he has "such strong disagreements with the direction of the Government's policy on immigration".

He continued: "The Government has a responsibility to place our vital national interests above highly contested interpretations of international law.


"In our discussions on the proposed emergency legislation you have moved towards my position, for which I am grateful. Nevertheless, I am unable to take the currently proposed legislation through the Commons as I do not believe it provides us with the best possible chance of success. A Bill of the kind you are proposing is a triumph of hope over experience.

"The stakes for the country are too high for us not to pursue the stronger protections required to end the merry-go-round of legal challenges which risk paralysing the scheme and negating its intended deterrent."

His resignation came just minutes after the Government published legislation to address the concerns of the Supreme Court when they ruled that the Rwanda Plan is illegal.

The new Bill says the UK parliament "is sovereign", noting that "the validity of an Act is unaffected by international law" - noting that the European Convention on Human Rights and other international law would be disapplied.

WATCH: Cleverly speaks about the Government's new treaty with Rwanda in the Commons

But a source close to former Home Secretary Suella Braverman warned that the legislation will allow "every single illegal migrant to make individual human rights claims", saying it is a "further betrayal of Tory voters".

The source said: "This bill doesn’t come close to meeting Suella’s tests.

"The PM has kept the ability for every single illegal migrant to make individual human rights claims against their removal and to then appeal those claims if they don’t succeed. It is fatally flawed.

"It will be bogged down in the courts for months…. It won’t stop the boats.

"It is a further betrayal of Tory voters and the decent patriotic majority who want to see this insanity brought to an end."

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