British Prime Minister Sunak walks outside Downing Street
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed the ongoing issue of illegal migration. Reuters

In a statement issued today, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addressed the ongoing issue of illegal migration and provided updates on the government's efforts to solve this pressing challenge. Standing alongside the new Small Boats Operational Command, the Prime Minister expressed his deep concern over the tragic, morally wrong, and profoundly unfair situation that is unfolding.

Sunak highlighted the gravity of the issue, emphasising the role oforganised criminals who put lives at risk by facilitating dangerous journeys in makeshift dinghies. He denounced the actions of gangs attempting to undermine the authority of the government and deciding who gains entry into the country. The Prime Minister further shed light on the strain that illegal migration has placed on the asylum system, diverting resources from assisting those who are truly in dire need of help.

Among the startling revelations, Sunak informed the public that the British people currently bear the burden of providing accommodation for illegal migrants in hotels, costing a staggering £6 million per day. To address these challenges head-on, the Prime Minister outlined his five-point plan, which includes reducing inflation, growing the economy, reducing debt, cutting waiting lists, and, notably, stopping the boats.

Today's update brought encouraging news as the Prime Minister announced a significant decrease in illegal crossings by small boats. Since launching the plan in December, there has been a remarkable 20 per cent reduction in crossings compared to the previous year. This marks the first time that arrivals between January and May have seen a decline since the inception of the issue.

While acknowledging this progress, Sunak acknowledged the constant threat posed by highly organised people smugglers who are quick to adapt their tactics. He reaffirmed his unflinching commitment to ending the boats and safeguarding the safety and security of the UK's borders.

To achieve this goal, the Prime Minister outlined the government's multifaceted approach. Firstly, he stressed the importance of international collaboration, recognising that illegal migration is a global phenomenon. Partnerships with France have already proven fruitful, preventing around 33,000 crossings last year, a significant increase compared to the previous year. Moreover, Sunak highlighted engagements with other countries such as Bulgaria and Albania, with the latter seeing a drastic reduction of almost 90 per cent in Albanian small boat arrivals.

Additionally, the government has intensified efforts to enhance enforcement measures. The funding allocated to the National Crime Agency for tackling organised immigration crime has been doubled, resulting in a significant increase in illegal worker arrests. The Prime Minister also emphasised the need to address modern slavery claims used to hinder removal processes, leading to a tripling in the refusal rate once basic evidence requirements were implemented.

Sunak reassured the public that progress is being made in clearing the backlog of individuals awaiting initial decisions, with a reduction of over 17,000 cases already achieved. The government remains committed to eliminating this backlog entirely by the end of the year. Furthermore, efforts are underway to relocate illegal migrants from hotels to alternative sites, including military facilities. New large sites at Wethersfield and Scampton are set to accommodate hundreds of individuals over the summer, with a projected total of nearly 3,000 by autumn.

To further alleviate pressures on local communities, the government plans to house individuals on ships, with the first ship expected to arrive in Portland within the next two weeks. Sunak also disclosed the acquisition of two additional ships that will accommodate an additional 1,000 individuals. Finally, the Prime Minister highlighted the introduction of legislation designed to expedite the detention and removal of illegal migrants within weeks.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that the road ahead remains challenging, but reaffirmed the government's determination to change the law and restore control over who enters the country. He stressed the need to prevent criminal gangs from exploiting the country's generosity and endangering the lives of vulnerable individuals. With resolute conviction, Sunak reiterated his commitment to delivering on his promise to stop the boats.

As the government's plan takes shape, the Prime Minister asked the public to be vigilant and support ongoing efforts to combat illegal migration. By confronting this difficult situation head on, the United Kingdom hopes to secure its borders, defend the rule of law, and protect the well-being of all its inhabitants.