Rishi Sunak claims migrant influx to Northern Ireland is 'proof' government's Rwanda plan is working

27 April 2024, 17:05 | Updated: 27 April 2024, 17:42

Rishi Sunak has responded to claims the government's Rwanda plan is causing an influx of migrants into Ireland, noting such figures prove the deterrent effect is working.
Rishi Sunak has responded to claims the government's Rwanda plan is causing an influx of migrants into Ireland, noting such figures prove the deterrent effect is working. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle De Wolfe

Rishi Sunak has responded to claims the government's Rwanda plan is causing an influx of migrants into Ireland, noting such figures prove the deterrent effect is working.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

"The deterrent is... already having an impact because people are worried about coming here," the Prime Minister said.

It comes after deputy Irish premier Micheal Martin said the UK's asylum policy is driving migrants in fear of being deported to Rwanda across the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic.

Ministers plan to send asylum seekers arriving in the UK on a one-way flight to the east African nation, with the aim of deterring others from crossing the English Channel on small boats.

It follows policing minister Chris Philp's comments to an audience earlier this week, in which he asked members of the public whether Rwanda was a different country to Congo.

The government minister was questioned by an audience member about the government's new Rwanda Bill and what this meant for those travelling to the UK from the neighbouring country of Congo.

Rishi Sunak has responded to claims the government's Rwanda plan is causing an influx of migrants into Ireland, noting such figures prove the deterrent effect is working.
Rishi Sunak has responded to claims the government's Rwanda plan is causing an influx of migrants into Ireland, noting such figures prove the deterrent effect is working. Picture: Alamy

Making the comments as part of an interview which is set to air on Sunday, the PM told Sky News' Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips:"My focus is on the United Kingdom and securing our borders.

"But what that comment illustrates is a couple of things," he continued.

"One, that illegal migration is a global challenge, which is why you're seeing multiple countries talk about doing third country partnerships, looking at novel ways to solve this problem, and I believe will follow where the UK has led.

"But what it also shows, I think, is that the deterrent is, according to your comment, already having an impact because people are worried about coming here and that demonstrates exactly what I'm saying.

Read more: Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary says he'd 'happily' offer Rwanda deportation flights

Read more: Policing minister Chris Philp asks if Rwanda and Congo are different countries leaving audience members in shock

"If people come to our country illegally, but know that they won't be able to stay, they're much less likely to come, and that's why the Rwanda scheme is so important."

Downing Street on Friday rebuffed claims the Rwanda plan was already influencing movements into Ireland, saying it was too early to jump to conclusions on its impact.

It comes as Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg was hounded by a group of left-wing protesters waving Palestine and Communist flags and shouting insults at him.

Downing Street on Friday rebuffed claims the Rwanda plan was already influencing movements into Ireland, saying it was too early to jump to conclusions on its impact.
Downing Street on Friday rebuffed claims the Rwanda plan was already influencing movements into Ireland, saying it was too early to jump to conclusions on its impact. Picture: Alamy

Mr Martin, who also serves as Ireland's foreign affairs minister, told reporters in Dublin on Friday: "Clearly, we've had an increase in the numbers coming into Northern Ireland into the Republic.

And it's fairly obvious that a Rwanda policy, if you're a person in a given situation in the UK and well, then you don't want to go to Rwanda - not that anybody has gone yet, I hasten to add.

"So I think it's a fair comment of mine. There are many other issues - it's not in any way trying to blame anything or anything like that."

But a No 10 spokeswoman told journalists in Westminster: "It is too early to jump to specific conclusions about the impact of the Act and treaty in terms of migrant behaviour.

"Of course, we will monitor this very closely and we already work very closely as you would expect with the Irish government, including on matters relating to asylum.

"But of course, the intention behind the Act is to have it serve as a deterrent and that is why we are working to get flights off the ground as swiftly as possible."

Mr Sunak this week acknowledged it could still take 10 to 12 weeks to get flights in the air, in a blow to his earlier target of seeing this take place in the "spring" of this year.

Irish ministers earlier this week suggested there had been a rise in the number of migrants crossing the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Justice minister Helen McEntee told a committee of the Irish Parliament the number was now "higher than 80%" crossing from Northern Ireland.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Kate's big comeback: Princess and William share tender moment as she re-joins royals at Trooping the Colour

Kate's big comeback: Princess and William share tender moment as she re-joins royals at Trooping the Colour

The attack, which took place in a garden east Germany on Friday night, saw the knifeman stab four people before police arrived at the scene.

German police shoot dead knifeman at Euro 2024 party after rampage leaves one dead and three injured

Businessman sues Apple after wife finds ‘deleted’ iPhone messages to prostitute

Businessman sues Apple after wife finds ‘deleted’ iPhone messages to prostitute

Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins is bankrupt, homeless and has "lost absolutely everything", according to his lawyer.

Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins has 'lost absolutely everything' as star faces selling medals following bankruptcy

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer promises no capital gains tax on sales of homes as he dismisses tax hike claims

Home Secretary calls for 'urgent investigation' after shock footage emerges of police ramming escaped cow

Home Secretary calls for 'urgent investigation' after shock footage emerges of police ramming escaped cow

Eight Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza - as Palestinian death toll reaches '37,000'

Eight Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack since January

Prince Louis steals the show as he dances along to bagpipes at Trooping the Colour

Prince Louis steals the show as he dances along to bagpipes on Buckingham Palace balcony

Coventry's Radford Road, where the schoolboy was killed

Schoolboy killed in hit and run as police urgently look for driver

Police rammed the cow

Shock as police ram escaped cow on the street, as officers say it 'was hurt while being moved to safety'

Exclusive
c

Angela Rayner condemns 'intimidation' of Labour's Rosie Duffield after she cancels hustings amid 'trolling and spite'

Kate and the royals came out on the Buckingham Palace balcony for the flypast

Kate joins King Charles and other royals on Buckingham Palace balcony for RAF flypast after Trooping the Colour

Exclusive
Ben Habib has hit back at suggestions Nigel Farage could join the Conservative party

Reform deputy hits back at suggestion Nigel Farage could join Tories, after leader tells LBC he could lead merged party

Olympic rings on the Eiffel Tower in Paris

IOC gives 14 Russians and 11 Belarusians neutral status for Paris Olympics

The ride got stuck upside down

Horrifying moment people get stuck upside down on theme park ride, as dozens have to be rescued

David Cameron and Nigel Farage

David Cameron says Nigel Farage is trying to destroy the Conservative Party through Reform UK