Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government had made progress in restricting immigration to the UK, pointing to a reduction in the number of people entering the country without permission and the number of backlogs of asylum applications.
Mr Sunak’s statement came alongside Home Office figures released on Monday showing the number of migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats fell by 36% last year, the first decline in at least five years. The government also reduced the backlog of asylum applications, making 112,000 decisions and excluding 24,000 people.
Mr Sunak said he was “determined to end the burden of illegal immigration on the British people”. “We are saving taxpayers millions of pounds on expensive hotel bills and reducing pressure on public services.”
Mr Sunak’s pledge to “stop the boats” and clear the asylum backlog will be a key issue in the election, which is widely expected to be held in 2024. The backlog of cases is costing taxpayers 8 million pounds (about $10.2 million) a day to cover housing costs. People waiting for decisions in hotels, jails, and even barges.
But the progress hailed by Mr Sunak may not last. Immigration Services Union officials warned last year’s border crossings were likely influenced by strong winds in the English Channel in December and that “even more migrants” were expected in 2024. We have been receiving items since the middle of this month.
Lucy Morton, a specialist member of the union, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We also had much larger ships, much more seaworthy ships, so the premise of the plan was that this was flawed. I think it is,” he said. “Will we see a peak like we saw in 2022? Maybe not, but certainly more than last year.”
Home Office data shows a total of more than 29,400 people arrived in the UK by small boat last year, down from 2022’s record of more than 45,700. Mr Sunak has come under fire from his own Conservative Party MPs for allowing a surge in immigration. Both legal and illegal routes into the country.
The Conservative Party made control of the UK’s borders a central argument in its 2016 decision to leave the European Union. One of the Conservative Party’s key election promises in 2019 was to reduce net immigration. Instead, they soared to a record 745,000 last year, although the majority went through legal channels.
The government believes it is essential to clear the backlog of asylum applications and send people arriving in Rwanda to reduce the UK’s attractiveness to migrants.
Home Secretary James Cleverley said: “While illegal immigration is increasing across Europe, the number of people entering the UK illegally is falling.” “This is an important accomplishment, but the work is not done yet.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)