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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's statement on the plan to stop the boats: 22 April 2024

PM Rishi Sunak's press statement on the next stage of the plan to stop the boats.

Please note: Political content has been redacted from this transcript.

[Please note political content redacted here.]

Last week – yet again – Peers in the House of Lords contrived to stop the Safety of Rwanda Bill.    

For almost two years our opponents have used every trick in the book to block flights and keep the boats coming.  

But enough is enough. 

No more prevarication. No more delay.

Parliament will sit there tonight and vote no matter how late it goes.

No ifs, no buts. These flights are going to Rwanda. 

We are going to deliver this indispensable deterrent…

…so that we finally break the business model of the criminal gangs and save lives.

Starting from the moment that the Bill passes… 

..we will begin the process of removing those identified for the first flight.  

We have prepared for this moment.  

To detain people while we prepare to remove them, we’ve increased detention spaces to 2,200.  

To quickly process claims, we’ve got 200 trained dedicated caseworkers ready and waiting. 

To deal with any legal cases quickly and decisively, the judiciary have made available 25 courtrooms… 

…and identified 150 judges who could provide over 5,000 sitting days.  

The Strasbourg Court have amended their Rule 39 procedures in line with the tests set out in our Illegal Migration Act…  

…and we’ve put beyond all doubt that Ministers can disregard these injunctions… 

…with clear guidance that if they decide to do so, civil servants must deliver that instruction. 

 And most importantly, once the processing is complete, we will physically remove people. 

To do that, I can confirm that we’ve put an airfield on standby… 

…booked commercial charter planes for specific slots… 

…and we have 500 highly trained individuals ready to escort illegal migrants all the way to Rwanda, with 300 more trained in the coming weeks. 

This is one of the most complex operational endeavours the Home Office has carried out. 

But we are ready. Plans are in place. 

And these flights will go come what may. 

No foreign court will stop us from getting flights off.  

Rwanda is ready too. 

And I would like to thank the government of Rwanda for their work… 

…in strengthening their asylum system, passing legislation, and setting up a new appeals tribunal. 

The next few weeks will be about action.

But whilst I’m conscious people want deeds not words… 

…I’m not going to outline now exactly what will happen when. 

There are good operational reasons for this. 

There is a loud minority who will do anything to disrupt our plan… 

…so we will not be giving away sensitive operational detail… 

…which could hinder all the progress made to date. 

Teams across government need to be able to get on and deliver without interference. 

They are working flat out to deliver this genuine game changer. 

The first flight will leave in 10 to 12 weeks. 

Now of course, that is later than we wanted. 

But we have always been clear that processing will take time…

[Please note political content redacted here.]

…and if Peers had not spent weeks holding up the Bill in the House of Lords to try to block flights altogether, we would have begun this process weeks ago. 

And the success of this deterrent doesn’t rest on one flight alone. 

It rests on the relentless, continual process of successfully and permanently removing people to Rwanda…  

…with a regular rhythm of multiple flights every month over the summer and beyond until the boats are stopped.

Now I know there are some who will hear all of this and accuse me of lacking compassion. 

But the truth is the opposite. 

We are in a battle with callous, sophisticated, and global criminal gangs…

…who care nothing for the lives they risk in unseaworthy dinghies.  

Nine people have died already attempting to cross the Channel just this year – including a seven-year-old girl.

That’s why we secured the largest ever deal with France to strengthen interceptions on the French coastline.  

And because a third of all arrivals were coming from Albania… 

…we struck a deal that reduced illegal Albanian migrants by 90 per cent. 

Taken together we’re doubling illegal working raids and returning 150 hotels backto our communities…

…we got the number of small boat arrivals last year down by more than a third… 

…the first time they had fallen since this phenomenon began, and at a time when European countries were seeing numbers rise exponentially.   

But these sophisticated gangs are changing tactics once again.  

As well as piling twice as many people into small dinghies… 

….and increasing violence against French police… 

…they have shifted their attentions towards vulnerable Vietnamese migrants.  

Vietnamese arrivals have increased ten-fold…

…and account for almost all of the increase in small boat numbers we have seen this year. 

And just as we succeeded in reducing Albanian arrivals dramatically, so I’m confident we will do the same when it comes to the Vietnamese.  

President Macron and I have agreed to work with European partners on closing loopholes to enter Europe in the first place. 

The Home Office have signed a Joint Statement with the Vietnamese Government committing… 

…to deepen our already very strong migration relationship…

And just last week officials from the Government of Vietnam were at Western Jetfoil and Manston…

…to observe Border Force operations on the front line as they continue to manage small boat arrivals.

But we can’t keep reacting to the changing tactics of these gangs.

The truth is we need innovative solutions to address what is a global migration crisis…

…to disrupt the business model of people smuggling gangs and save lives.

And that means a systematic deterrent.

The only way to stop the boats is to eliminate the incentive to come…

…by making it clear that if you are here illegally, you will not be able to stay. 

This policy does exactly that.

[Please note political content redacted here.]

I believe it should be this country and your government who decides who comes here, not criminal gangs.  

And I have the plan to deliver it.  

So we will start the flights – and stop the boats.  

Thank you.


Channel website: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/prime-ministers-office-10-downing-street

Original article link: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-minister-rishi-sunaks-statement-on-the-plan-to-stop-the-boats-22-april-2024

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