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Rishi Sunak pledges annual refugee cap as Liz Truss vows to expand Rwanda plan
23 July 2022, 22:50
Rishi Sunak has pledged to introduce an annual cap on the number of refugees the UK accepts as part of his campaign to become the next prime minister.
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The former chancellor has also unveiled plans to tighten the definition of who qualifies for asylum, with enhanced powers to detain, tag and monitor illegal immigrants.
As well as opting for a narrower definition of who qualifies for asylum compared to that offered by the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr Sunak will also promise to do "whatever it takes" to make a success of the controversial Rwanda asylum scheme.
Mr Sunak said the annual cap on refugees would be able to be changed in the case of sudden emergencies.
Meanwhile, Liz Truss told the Mail on Sunday she would expand the Rwanda plan to even more countries if she became PM.
"Our immigration system is broken and we have to be honest about that. Whether you believe that migration should be high or low, we can all agree that it should be legal and controlled," Mr Sunak said.
"Right now the system is chaotic, with law-abiding citizens seeing boats full of illegal immigrants coming from the safe country of France with our sailors and coastguards seemingly powerless to stop them.
"It must stop and if I am prime minister I will stop it."
Caller fears Britain under either Truss or Sunak
The Rwanda scheme remains in legal limbo, with the UK currently standing to lose the £120 million it has paid to Rwanda if the plan to deport migrants is ruled unlawful by the courts.
Officials for the east African nation's government confirmed this week it had received the entire initial payment for the agreement signed in April and that the funds are already "committed", with some money spent on preparations for arrivals.
On Thursday Mr Sunak exclusively told LBC he supported the controversial scheme because of his own family's immigrant background.
"When my grandparents came here, they came here because the British Government had decided that it wanted them to come here," he told Tonight with Andrew Marr.
"It is absolutely right that we continue as a country to decide who we want to come here, and I think it's entirely reasonable that at the same time as we welcome the best and the brightest, which is what we're now doing… we get control of our borders.
"People are seeing on their screens that boats are arriving, it shows that we haven't got a grip of it and I think the Rwanda policy gives us the opportunity to solve that."
The promise to be tough on migration comes as Mr Sunak's competitor Liz Truss told the Mail on Sunday she would extend the Rwanda scheme, as well as increasing Border Force staff levels from 9,000 to 10,800.
Both campaigns traded blows on Saturday over tax cuts and economic credibility, with Mr Sunak also hitting out at the "forces that be" backing his rival as he painted himself as the underdog in the contest.
He will be hoping that by promising to be tough on migration, he can win over any of the undecided Conservative members who will ultimately choose who gets the keys to No 10.
His crackdown on illegal migration would also see the creation of a cross-government small boats taskforce, as well as the threat of tougher fines and prison sentences for anyone found to be exploiting illegal labour.
Top on his agenda as the next prime minister, according to Mr Sunak, will be a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron to find a solution to small boat crossings, with the pledge that "no options are off the table".
His plans would also see the UK re-assessing aid, trade terms and visa options on the basis of a country's willingness to co-operate with the return of failed asylum seekers and offenders.
The Home Office will also not escape from scrutiny, with Mr Sunak calling for "fundamental" reform of both the department and Border Force.
Mr Sunak called his plans "concrete measures that are reasonable, fair and proportionate".