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Sunak to Seek European-Wide Strategy to Migration

migration

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will urge fellow world leaders at the Council of Europe summit in Reykjavík for cooperation to address ‘illegal migration’. 

The Prime Minister will also look to use a meeting with the president of the European court of human rights (ECHR) to secure support for the UK’s efforts to overcome rules that hindered the first planned deportation flight to Rwanda.

Renewed efforts on illegal migration

During a meeting in Reykjavík, Sunak will address the Council of Europe, asserting that the international system for policing human trafficking is not working. The meeting brings together leaders from the EU, other European states and the ECHR.

Sunak’s renewed efforts for a Europe-wide strategy comes after France previously rejected Britain’s proposal for a bilateral returns agreement for migrants crossing the Channel, urging that there was a need for a broader agreement within the European Union.

The pivotal aspect of Sunak’s visit to Iceland lies in his conversations with Síofra O’Leary, the president of the ECHR, over proposed changes to the functionality of Rule 39. This particular order hindered the inaugural deportation flight taking asylum seekers to Rwanda last summer.

He is expected to tell O’Leary that reform is needed to establish an international system that allows states to safeguard their borders and help people most in need.

Background

According to Government sources, looming over the talks is the memory of Sunak caving in last month to the demands of hard-right MPs, granting the UK the ability to ignore rulings from the European Court of Human Rights on small boat crossings.

The Prime Minister’s visit also comes as migration tops the political agenda, with Home Secretary Suella Braverman, addressing the National Conservatism conference on Monday that Britain “must not lose sight of the importance of controlling legal migration”, as well as stopping people from entering through unauthorised channels.

Speaking before the trip, Sunak said: “Every single point on each route used by people traffickers to smuggle people across our continent represents another community struggling to deal with the human cost of this barbaric enterprise.”

“It is very clear that our current international system is not working, and our communities and the world’s most vulnerable people are paying the price.

“We need to do more to cooperate across borders and across jurisdictions to end illegal migration and stop the boats. I am clear that as an active European nation with a proud history helping those in need, the UK will be at the heart of this.”

Final thought

The Prime Minister is in a race against time as he attempts to deliver his promise to stop small boats and fight the looming migrant crisis. In March, Sunak said stopping small boats is a ‘priority’ for British people. His renewed strategy comes as he tries to reassert his authority over the restless right of his party. But is it a little too late?

Moreover, the Government’s continuous focus on immigration fuels Britain’s ‘culture war’. In relation to the Illegal Migration Bill, previous Conservative legislation on combatting ‘illegal’ immigration has not been carried out in practice, the emphasis placed on this bill and the notion of asylum seekers as a large-scale security issue can be seen as a symbolic act — dividing the population on racial grounds is used as a method to conjure up support from those who perceive immigration as a threat.

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