Rishi Sunak ‘confident’ he will stop the boats despite massive hike in crossings | Politics | News

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Rishi Sunak is still confident he can “stop the boats” despite record arrivals so far this year.

Another 800 illegal migrants landed in the UK after making the dangerous crossing over the Easter weekend.

It takes the total number of arrivals to more than 5,435, a 43% increase compared with the same time last year.

Downing Street insisted the Prime Minister is still confident he can meet his pledge to end the crossings.

A spokeswoman said the increase is down to a range of factors including criminal gangs adapting their tactics, the weather, and French police “facing increasing violence and disruption” on the beaches.

The Prime Minister Visits A Nursery In Hartlepool

Rishi Sunak is ‘confident’ he can stop the boats despite an increase in crossings (Image: Getty)

She added: “We need to keep stepping up our efforts and adapting to the gangs who continually adapt their own tactics, but that’s why, alongside continuing that work, we have to fundamentally break the business model, and that’s what the Rwanda partnership will do.”

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said: “Over the Christmas break, they were quick to claim credit for the low number of crossings, so where are the Home Secretary and Prime Minister now, when we’ve seen almost 800 people arrive in small boats over the bank holiday weekend?

“This is complete chaos. It’s time the Tories got a grip and adopted Labour’s plan of going after the criminal smuggling gangs, with a new cross-border police unit, and set up a new returns and enforcement unit to remove those who have no right to be here.”

Before the weekend’s crossings, 2024 had already seen a record high in the number of people making the journey in the first three months of a year.

It comes after a significant drop of a third last year.

Mr Sunak is under intense pressure to turn around the Conservative party’s fortunes with illegal migration one of the key areas of voter concern.

The Prime Minister spent yesterday (TUES) out in the north east on a series of visits.

He dismissed calls to set out a date for the election, but suggested again that it will be in the autumn.

Mr Sunak insisted the economy has turned a corner and urged voters to stick with the plan.

He told ITV Tyne Tees: “I’ve said consistently that my working assumption is that we’ll have a general election in the second half of the year.

“Nothing’s changed from that. But the key is the choice at that election. Now, after a tough couple of years for the country with covid and the war in Ukraine and energy bills, I really feel now that we have turned a corner and we’re pointing in the right direction.

“That is important because now you can see that most importantly with the economy, inflation down from 11% to 3.4%, energy bills falling by hundreds of pounds, wages rising. “And this year tax is being cut by £900 for the average worker, as well as the state pension going up by £900.”

Mr Sunak insisted Labour is unable to say what it will do if it takes power.

He added: “If we stick to that plan, I can deliver the peace of mind that there’s a brighter future ahead and a renewed sense of pride in our country.

“That’s what I’m working to deliver. And ultimately, elections are a choice, and the alternative is the Labour Party.

“And they can’t tell you, you’ve mentioned Keir Starmer, he can’t tell you what he’s going to do differently because he doesn’t have a plan and you don’t get any change without a plan. We’ve got a plan and it’s working. And that’s what I’m sticking to.”

Mr Sunak dismissed Labour’s claims that levelling-up was “strangled at birth” through a lack of funding under his time in the Treasury.

He added: “After years of Labour neglect, people wherever I am out and about across Teesside, feel an enormous sense of optimism about the future as a result of those investments and change.”

It comes as a grassroots website, Conservative Post, called on party members to help deselect ten MPs for not being Tory enough.

Among those identified are centrists Caroline Nokes, Alicia Kearns and Tobias Elwood.

The website tells party members that only 10% of an association needs to send in a letter of no confidence to trigger the deselection process.

The website said: “For too long there have been concerns the Conservative Party’s candidates department have been weeding out actual centre-right conservatives and pushing liberal centrists.

“It’s time to start flexing our muscles and steering our party back to proper conservatism.

“We want MPs who promote proper conservative values: free speech, free markets, free people, low taxes, small government, Brexit and Britain! Poll after poll show the country is also calling out for this.”

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