Sunak 'prepares to pull UK out of ECHR' amid warning 65,000 migrants could attempt Channel crossing this year

5 February 2023, 15:29

The UK could be taken out of the ECHR
The UK could be taken out of the ECHR. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Rishi Sunak is preparing to pull the UK out of ECHR amid warnings that 65,000 migrants could attempt the Channel crossing this year.

Mr Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman are expected to introduce immigration legislation that will take Britain to the “boundaries” of international law.

The extreme move comes after official estimates suggested a 50 per cent increase on illegal migration from records set in 2022.

The PM vowed to tackle the "ridiculous" Channel migrant situation as one of his five priorities during his premiership.

And senior figures have now said if judges at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg rule that the new plans are unlawful, Mr Sunak could go as far as withdrawing from the convention altogether.

"The PM has been clear he wants to introduce legislation that meets our international obligations,” a source told the Times.

"This bill will go as far as possible within international law. We are pushing the boundaries of what is legally possible, while staying within the ECHR. And we are confident that when it is tested in the courts, we will win.

"But if this legislation gets onto the statute book and is found to be lawful by our domestic courts, but it is still being held up in Strasbourg, then we know the problem is not our legislation or our courts.

"If that’s the case, then of course he will be willing to reconsider whether being part of the ECHR is in the UK’s long-term interests."

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Two separate sets of proposals are being drawn up to solve the issue, it was previously reported.

The first option would withdraw the right for all small boat migrants from submitting a judicial review of their exclusion from the asylum system.

The second proposal would only allow them to lodge an appeal after they have been removed from the UK.

The option is expected to be tabled ahead of the next general election if the European court shuts down plans but the UK is unlikely to be withdrawn before the 2024 election, it is understood.

It would instead be put at the heart of the Tory's manifesto to reflect a Tory right approach to immigration.

A total of 45,756 migrants attempted the Channel crossing in 2022, Government figures showed.

It was a surge of 60 per cent on 2021, with the migrant crisis continuing to worsen.