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Sunak fails to guarantee he will stop small boats by next election

21 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Rishi Sunak failed to guarantee he will be able to stop small boat crossings in the English Channel by the next general election as he acknowledged the complexity of the issue.

The Prime Minister expressed his commitment to stopping the boats and highlighted that the number of illegal migrants making the dangerous journey this year is “down for the first time in some years”.

However, he said he would not be being “straight” with the public if he claimed the crisis can be solved overnight.

His comments came during a visit to a nursery in North Yorkshire, during which he was asked whether he would be able to sort the small boats crisis by the next election.

Mr Sunak told broadcasters: “One of my five priorities is to stop the boats. The current system is both unsustainable and is completely unfair, but particularly unfair on British taxpayers who are forking out millions of pounds to house illegal migrants in hotels and local communities.

“That’s not right. We’ve got to put a stop to that. And we’re working on it.

“It’s not an easy problem to fix. I never said we would be able to solve it overnight. It will take time and we have to attack it from lots of different ways. But I am pleased that the number of illegal migrants crossing this year is down for the first time in some years.

“That shows that our plans are working, but of course there’s still more to do and people should know I am determined to grip this problem, and that’s why one of my five priorities is to stop the boats.”


Pressed again on whether it will be done by the next election, he said: “I want it to be done as soon as possible, but I also want to be honest with people that it is a complex problem. There is not one simple solution and it can’t be solved overnight and I wouldn’t be being straight with people if I said that was possible.”

During the same visit, Mr Sunak also defended plans to house migrants on an RAF base in Lincolnshire that has historic links to the Second World War Dambusters raid.

Asked about the risk that moving asylum seekers into RAF Scampton poses to a multimillion-pound investment, he told regional broadcasters: “Of course the Home Office and other authorities are in dialogue with all local partners to work through all the outstanding issues and questions.”

On why migrants housed in Lincolnshire hotels are not set to be moved to RAF Scampton, with local businesses facing a prolonged squeeze as a result, he added: “We are investing in driving growth in the local economy, and at the same time we are taking decisive action to stop the boats.

“That is why our new law in Parliament is so important. It has been opposed by other parties but I think it is the right thing to do, and we are taking action to reduce, as I say, the amount that taxpayers are spending on housing illegal migrants in hotels.

“It is millions of pounds a day – that is not right, it is not fair.”


With a capacity of more than 500, the Government also hopes that the use of the Bibby Stockholm barge, together with former military bases, will help reduce the amount it is spending on hotel bills.

However, just days after the first migrants arrived at the vessel, they had to be removed because of the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water supply.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told reporters: “The Home Office are still awaiting the results of the further tests. As I said, they want to re-embark people as soon as possible once those tests have been completed.”

He added: “We continue to work closely with the contractors on this to make sure that the accommodation is appropriate and we have all the tests in place.”

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

The stock-in-trade of a Flim-Flam-Man…Snake Oil…Find the Lady…all manner of deceptive nonsense…a personality ?

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
9 months ago

What an idiot Sunak is, all he has to do to stop the boats is make safe, legitimate routes, via proper channels, into the UK and increase the number of immigration officers and processing centres. Building barges, producing tougher laws and blocking all safe routes into the UK is just a costly waste of time, the boats will still leave the continent unless you somehow guard every inch of English channel and North sea coastline. Sunak this isn’t a vote winner, stop using life’s to retain power.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
9 months ago

Apparently there is a government dept where the staff are being made to work alongside a deep clean for Legionella while rest of their estate is bug and cockroach heaven…

I remember the old ‘Inn and Out Club’ (Army and Navy Club) on Piccadilly, very posh but the kitchens were alive with cockroaches after dark, they are no respecters of rank…

9 months ago

Sunak rows back from small boats pledge (pun intended)

9 months ago

UK has far bigger fish to fry, always did, but this is what the far right tub thumpers want to believe is the real issue (despite there being a humane way to do this, but Cons race hate bridles through).
Don’t forget this PM claimed to be a champion for integrity, accountability and proffessionalism on the steps of No10 then put Braverman in post a few hours later.

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