Breaking down Rishi Sunak’s ten-point plan to curb illegal immigration

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By James Patricks



Rishi Sunak may be on his way out of the race for Tory leadership, but with the Conservative party sliding further and further right on the issue of immigration, we thought it would be good to break down the reasons why Sunak’s plan will be costly, deadly and ineffective. Here we examine each of his ten points in turn.


  1. Reforming our broken asylum laws.


As things stand, you can only claim asylum in the UK from abroad if you are from Afghanistan, Hong Kong or Ukraine. If you come from any other country, you have to make it to UK soil before you can claim asylum.


Neither Sunak nor anyone else in the Conservative Party are suggesting that we open up more ports of entry for asylum seekers, for example in war-torn countries where individuals cannot board a plane. While the Ukrainian refugee policy has its faults, it has proved popular with the public and allowed the UK to be seen as a just hero in the conflict with Russia. However, when it comes to wars in African and Middle Eastern countries, the UK and Europe are happy to turn a blind eye.


An asylum system that persecutes people fleeing war already seems as broken as it can be.


2. Taking back control over who comes to the UK.


The European Court of Human Rights is currently the Conservative Party’s big target, with both candidates aiming to remove the UK from the Court and thereby allow us to ‘take back control’. However, the ECHR doesn’t actually dictate the UK’s immigration system; instead it allows lawyers to refer to a legal framework that lets them give asylum seekers a fair plea.


The only countries ever to withdraw from the ECHR are Russia (when they invaded Ukraine earlier this year) and Greece (briefly, when they experienced a fascist military coup). The Good Friday Agreement also demands that the UK remain in the ECHR in order to prevent another Bloody Sunday.


The ECHR isn’t just a framework pertaining to the rights of refugees. Rather, the Court also upholds workers’ and citizens’ rights.


3. A new cross-government small boats taskforce.


This may be the worst part of the policy. Tougher immigration policies simply don’t work. A small boats task force that drives boats back will only make people smugglers take longer routes around the Channel, avoiding the south of England in an attempt to evade the boats. This will result in longer trips around the eastern coast, which will be more dangerous still.


The Government thinks that these more dangerous and costly trips will discourage people from seeking asylum in the UK. However, we should ask ourselves how much we would be prepared to pay in order to see our families again, and how much we would risk to find safety.


4. Making our Rwanda partnership work.


In his interview with Andrew Niel, Sunak stated that the Rwanda policy is a pilot program  and is currently set to take in just 200 refugees. This alone has already cost us £120 million.


The idea that this is a costly deterrent which will pay dividends in the future doesn’t really make any sense unless we decide to send every single refugee to Rwanda, because people will always make the risky trip to avoid persecution or death. 


5. Strengthening immigration enforcement.


Strengthening immigration enforcement just doesn’t seem to work. Despite increasing security to prevent people from reaching the UK via trucks and trains, the UK saw an historic high of 28,526 Channel crossings in 2021. There have been a further 5,000 crossings since the Nationality and Borders Bill was proposed, showing that harsher policies don’t stop people attempting to come to the UK.


France has seen similar failures in their ‘tough on refugees’ policies, particularly with the creation of the Calais Jungle and with refugees living in the woods and sleeping in tents across France.


Unless we want a similar situation arising in the UK, we need to create a new system that allows people the chance to apply to stay here without fear of persecution.


6. Holding the French to account with targets for stopping boats.


Aside from the irony of a Brexiteer petitioning France to do something, tougher practices only result in more dangerous channel crossings, as discussed above.


7. Sending failed asylum seekers and foreign criminals back home.


This is what we already do in the UK: we send people back if they don’t meet our requirements. Or, if the situation in their home country is too dangerous to return to, we allow them to remain in the UK until the violence dies down. However, the phrasing of this point suggests that Sunak would be happy to deport people to countries currently experiencing war and political massacres, essentially sending them to die. 


8. Ending the hotel farce.

In his interview with Andrew Neil, Sunak also stated that we’re currently spending £5 million per day housing refugees in hotels. This is a shocking figure which, as highlighted in one of our previous articles, could have been avoided had the UK created a Homes for Refugees system, similar to the Homes for Ukraine situation. Through such a scheme, we could house asylum seekers with Brits who are willing to open their homes. The Government gives only £350 per month to households that accommodate Ukrainian refugees – still a considerable expense, but much cheaper than the £5 million a day which will amount to over £1 billion by the end of the year.


9. A tougher and faster asylum process.

We are already one of the toughest countries when it comes to refugees and asylum seekers, refusing a third of all applicants. One of Sunak’s policies is to put a cap on asylum seekers, meaning that totally valid asylum seekers will be deported. 

A faster asylum process would be a costly endeavour, but it would be worth it. One way in which we could speed up asylum applications would be to allow asylum seekers to live with UK families who could help them through their applications, potentially matching refugees with people who speak their language. A Homes for Refugees scheme would be an incredibly efficient way of processing refugees in a safe and humane way, and wouldn’t require people to spend months and years in cramped, expensive hotel rooms or dingy army barracks.


10. New and better structures.

Germany has an extremely efficient asylum process, because after the fall of the Berlin Wall they had to come up with a framework that allowed refugees to return to Germany. Since then, they’ve had one of the best and most humane refugee systems in Europe. To create something like this in the UK would be a massive undertaking, but it would be worth it to create a country that is a leader in refugee justice.




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