‘Heartbreaking’ migrant deaths show ‘need to stop the boats’, Cameron says, as he defends ‘unorthodox’ Rwanda plan

14 January 2024, 08:30 | Updated: 14 January 2024, 15:22

David Cameron has defended the Government's migration policy
David Cameron has defended the Government's migration policy. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

The Foreign Secretary has said the deaths of five migrants at sea shows the need to 'stop the boats', as he defended the Government's 'unorthodox' Rwanda plan.

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Five migrants died while trying to cross the Channel in French waters in the early hours of this morning.

Around 70 migrants were attempting to get into a small boat when it overturned, according to French media.

While dozens were pulled from the water in overnight rescue efforts, five died.

They are understood to have been from Iraq and Syria.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron
Foreign Secretary David Cameron. Picture: Getty

David Cameron said it is always "heartbreaking" when "these things happen".

But he said it only further underlines the need to 'stop the boats' - one of Rishi Sunak's key pledges.

Read More: UK ready to strike Houthis again if Red Sea attacks continue, says David Cameron

Read More: Rebel Tory MPs unite in fresh bid to 'toughen up' Rwanda law by ignoring foreign courts and closing 'loopholes'

The only way to do that is to bust the business models of people smugglers, he added.

That is also why Rwanda is necessary, despite being "unorthodox", Lord Cameron said, telling the BBC the policy would "collapse" the trade.

Migrants with children, some of the first in 2024 to be picked up at sea attempting to cross the English Channel from France
Migrants with children, some of the first in 2024 to be picked up at sea attempting to cross the English Channel from France. Picture: Getty

It comes 24 hours after the first group of migrants to enter the UK this year made the journey across the Channel.

Around 124 migrants arrived in the UK on Saturday morning on a Border Force vessel in Dover.

The Home Secretary, James Cleverly, had previously told LBC that it was his target to get small boat crossings down to zero this year.

Suella Braverman plans to vote against the Rwanda bill if improvements are not made
Suella Braverman plans to vote against the Rwanda bill if improvements are not made. Picture: Getty

Lord Cameron's comments come as the Prime Minister prepares to face down Tory rebels who are unhappy about the proposed Rwanda plan.

The former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has already said she will vote against the bill if further improvements are not made.

"I'm only going to support a Bill that works. As currently drafted, this Bill does not work. And if there are no improvements to it, I will have to vote against it, I'm afraid," Ms Braverman said this week.

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