UK would be ‘illegal migration capital of world’ under Labour, Sunak says as he sets out plans to ‘stop the boats’

24 June 2024, 22:40 | Updated: 25 June 2024, 07:22

Rishi Sunak criticised Labour's proposed plans to tackle migration rates in the UK.
Rishi Sunak criticised Labour's proposed plans to tackle migration rates in the UK. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

Rishi Sunak has claimed that Labour would make the UK the ‘soft-touch illegal migration capital of the world’ as the Tories are expected to set out their plans to curb migration on Tuesday.

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Under the announcement, Rishi Sunak attacked Labour’s proposed plans to slash migration rates, as he claimed that the party would allow thousands more migrants into the UK each year.

He criticised Sir Keir’s migration proposals in what he described as an "illegal migration amnesty and sweetheart deal with the EU”.

If re-elected, the Conservative party said under the plans that it would commission the independent Migration Advisory Committee to recommend an annual level for migration, and automatically hike the salary threshold for skilled workers and the family income requirement in line with inflation.

This morning from 9am Home Secretary James Cleverly and Labour's Yvette Cooper will go head-to-head in a live immigration debate moderated by LBC’s Nick Ferrari and you can watch live on Global Player, the official LBC app.

Plans will also include “running a regular rhythm of flights to Rwanda to provide an effective deterrent, starting in July, until the boats are stopped".

They also include introducing a cap on the number of work visas and allowing Parliament to vote on where the limit should be set.

Read more: Farage warns of Channel migrant 'invasion' from countries 'with terrorism, gang culture and war zones'

Read more: Sunak says he's not being investigated in Tory betting scandal and is 'unaware of other candidates being looked at'

On Tuesday, the Conservative Party will set out its plans to tackle migration numbers.
On Tuesday, the Conservative Party will set out its plans to tackle migration numbers. Picture: Alamy

The Labour party hit back at Mr Sunak's comments, as it accused the Tories of “desperately inventing lies” about their policies, adding that "instead of the gimmicks, Labour will get a grip" on the issue.

It comes as the number of migrants arriving in the UK after crossing the English Channel hit a new record for the first six months of a calendar year - at 12,901.

The tally of crossings since Mr Sunak, who promised to "stop the boats", became Prime Minister in October 2022 is fast approaching 50,000.

Net migration hit 685,000 last year, more than three times higher than the figure at the time of the last election when the Conservatives promised to cut overall numbers in their 2019 manifesto.

Mr Sunak said of the Tories’ plans: “Migration is too high and the Conservatives have a clear plan to get it down. Labour would rip up our plan on day one by scrapping the Rwanda scheme, despite countries across Europe looking to it themselves to deal with their own migration pressures.

"Labour's only alternative is an illegal migration amnesty and sweetheart deal with the EU that would see Britain taking even more illegal migrants from the continent - the opposite of what Britain needs.

"So that's the clear choice at this election - the Conservatives who have shown they will take the bold action necessary to break the model of the smuggling gangs and stop the boats, and Labour who would make us the soft-touch illegal migration capital of the world and take us back to square one."

Labour hit back at the claims made by the Conservative Party, saying that "instead of the gimmicks, Labour will get a grip" on the issue.
Labour hit back at the claims made by the Conservative Party, saying that "instead of the gimmicks, Labour will get a grip" on the issue. Picture: Alamy

Home Secretary James Cleverly also claimed that Labour would “send immigration soaring” if elected.

He said: “The Labour Party have got a complete vacuum where their policies should be. Their big idea is for a border command that already exists."

On Monday, Reform UK’s leader Nigel Farage criticised the Tories’ track record on controlling the UK’s borders.

He slammed the current government's ability to control immigration from the top deck of a double decker Reform bus.

Meanwhile, Labour has pledged in their manifesto to scrap the government’s flagship plan to relocate migrants to Rwanda if elected and use the money to pay for a new security border command.

If elected, Labour would launch the unit with "hundreds of new specialist investigators", vowing to "use counter-terror powers to smash criminal boat gangs" in a bid to curb Channel crossings.

The party would also seek a "new security agreement with the EU to ensure access to real-time intelligence" so police can work with European counterparts.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "The Tories' so-called plan is more of the same chaotic failures and desperate lies - they are trying to take the country for fools.

"Small boat crossings have hit 50,000 on Rishi Sunak's watch and net migration has trebled since the last election.

"The extortionate Rwanda scheme has been running two years and just two volunteers have been sent. Rishi Sunak's promises and policies are all just a total con. All they are offering is more of the same failed approach while desperately inventing lies about Labour.

"Labour will set up a new Border Security Command with new counter terror powers and hundreds of additional cross-border police and investigators to smash criminal smuggler gangs.

"We will put a stop to the Tories asylum hotel amnesty by clearing the backlog with a new Returns and Enforcement Unit to return those with no right to be here.

"Labour will link visa controls to new workforce plans and training requirements to tackle skills shortages and bring net migration down."

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