British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Monday that his effort to block migrants landing in small boats had decreased crossings by 20%, an update he believes will relieve criticism of his immigration policy from his party and the country.
Sunak, who is poised to lead his governing Conservative Party into a national election next year, has pledged to “stop the boats” from crossing the English Channel as one of his five pledges since taking office in October last year.
However, he has been chastised by members of his own party and the public for not moving swiftly enough, with some protesting the placement of hundreds of migrants in hotels when a record number came in the UK last year.
“In the five months since I launched the plan, crossings are now down 20% compared to last year,” Sunak told a news conference in southern England.
“The plan is working,” he said, adding his government was not complacent and would work hard to make sure parliament passed a new law.
According to the opposition Labour Party, Sunak has failed to remove a backlog of tens of thousands of asylum petitions, and 7,600 migrants have crossed the English Channel this year.
Sunak is eager to demonstrate that his approach of getting agreements with other European countries to minimize the number of landings on Britain’s southern beaches can yield results.
He stated that a pact with Albania had resulted in Britain returning more migrants to the nation and that London was increasing its provision of housing for individuals awaiting immigration judgments.
Sunak stated that “the number of Albanian small boat arrivals has fallen by almost 90% so far this year, and that Britain is now accepting one in every 50 Albanian asylum cases, up from one in every five previously.
The interior ministry stated that around 5,000 asylum seekers would be relocated from hotels, which now cost 6 million pounds ($7.4 million) each day, to two new sites and two new vessels.
Sunak encouraged parliament to support his new Illegal Migration Bill, which would allow for the fast detention and deportation of persons arriving on small boats back to their home country or to so-called safe third nations such as Rwanda.