'Evidence Of Failure': Rishi Sunak Slammed After Breaking Pledge To 'Stop The Boats'

Nearly 30,000 asylum seekers made the perilous voyage across the English Channel in 2023.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel in October last year.
A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, from a Border Force vessel in October last year.
Gareth Fuller - PA Images via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has been slammed after breaking his key promise to voters to “stop the boats” carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel.

A total of 29,437 people made the perilous crossing from France in 2023, according to provisional Home Office figures.

Although that is a 36% fall on the 2022 figure of 45,774, it is still the second highest total since the crossings began in 2018.

It is almost exactly a year since Sunak made stopping the boats one of his five pledges to voters.

He said at the time: “No tricks, no ambiguity - we’re either delivering for you or we’re not.”

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper described the fall in small boat crossings since 2022 as “modest” and “helped by the weather”.

She said: “This has been the second highest number of small boat crossings on record, 100 times higher than it was five years ago - evidence of the failure of Rishi Sunak’s promise to stop the boats this year.

“We also have record high numbers in asylum hotels, 20% higher than when the Prime Minister promised to end them a year ago, costing the taxpayer £8m a day.

“The Tories have lost control of our border security and broken our asylum system. They are failing to tackle the criminal gangs where smuggler convictions have dropped by 30%, they’ve let the backlog soar and returns of failed asylum seekers are 50% lower than under the last Labour government.

“Too often they focus on gimmick rather than getting a grip.”

Lib Dem home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: “The idea this is a victory for Rishi Sunak is absolutely laughable.

“In any other walk of life, someone meeting less than a third of their target would be in line for the sack. Yet Sunak expects praise. What a farce.

“This has been a mess of the government’s own making. Rishi Sunak promised the British public to stop all small boat crossings, anything less will be seen as a failure come the election this year.”

Sunak admitted last month that there is “no firm date” for when the small boat crossings will finally end.

He is pinning his hopes on parliament passing his Safety of Rwanda Bill, which could finally lead to asylum seekers being deported to the east African country.

Ministers say that will act as a deterrent to immigrants trying to reach the UK, despite little evidence to back that up.

Sunak has so far only met one of his five pledges by halving the rate of inflation.

Just last month, his promise to grow the economy was dealt a major blow when it emerged that GDP fell by 0.3% in October.


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