Sunak accused of ‘blundering into crisis on migrant policy

Migrant crisis will get ‘significantly more serious’ warns Ellwood

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A scathing takedown from a Conservative MP has compared Rishi Sunak’s Government to the “band on the Titanic” during a WhatsApp discussion between colleagues over the Government’s response to the migrant crisis. Lee Anderson, MP for Ashfield, accused Mr Sunak of “blundering into a crisis”, also suggesting that officials seeking to block attempts to tackle the crisis are committing “treason”.

In messages sent to the Common Sense Group of MPs on Whatsapp, seen by Sky News, Mr Anderson warned that the Prime Minister’s new legislation aimed at tackling the problem “will not stop the crossings”.

He added: “I learnt that in Calais last week. We are blundering into a crisis that is growing out of control.”

Mr Anderson reportedly said the only way of dealing with the problem is to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, a plan initially proposed by Boris Johnson.

The MP said: “We could start these flights today if we had the balls.”

When one colleague noted that “legislation is coming”, fellow Tory MP Marco Longhi weighed in on the issue, saying: “I don’t want to shoot the messenger.

“But we’ve had legislation before. ECHR (the European Convention on Human Rights, which could hold up flights) trumps everything and our own colleagues want to keep it even if it poses a security risk to UK people as we’ve just seen.

The MP for Dudley North warned: “We will be slaughtered at the locals and at the GE (general election).”

Mr Anderson replied: “It’s like the band on the Titanic. Playing the same tune and ignoring the obvious.”

Discussing reports that civil servants might attempt to block plans to ban illegal migrants from claiming asylum, Mr Anderson replied: “Going against the state is Treason. Surely.”

Mr Sunak announced a swathe of new policies to tackle migration in a statement to MPs at the start of December.

Addressing MPs in December, Mr Sunak set out a five-point plan to deal with illegal migration and help speed up the assessment of claims from countries deemed “safe”.

It included “significantly” raising the threshold someone has to meet before being considered trafficked as a slave and processing claims from Albanian nationals in “weeks instead of months”.

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He said that illegal migration is “unfair on the British people who play by the rules”.

The Prime Minister said “enough is enough”, adding: “It is not cruel or unkind to want to break the stranglehold of the criminal gangs who trade in human misery and who exploit our system and laws.”

The last set of migration figures, published in November last year, show that net migration rose to 504,000 in the year to June 2022.

Net migration for the year ending June 2015 – the year before the UK voted to leave the EU – was 336,000.

The new net migration figure is an increase of 331,000 in a single year.

Refugee charities have criticised the Government’s plans to send migrants to Rwanda, with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants calling it “unspeakably cruel”.

It described the plans as “barbaric and racist”, warning that it would cause “untold harm” to refugees.

Lee Anderson declined to comment.

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