Rishi Sunak sets out ‘radical’ proposal
PM hopeful Rishi Sunak hasn’t ruled out withdrawing the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in order to combat illegal migration, arguing that “no option should be off the table.”
In an interview with the TV channel GB News aired on Saturday, Sunak said that he is vexed by the fact that “thousands of people are coming illegally to this country in small boats” across the English Channel. He stressed that no one should have any doubts that if he becomes prime minister, he “will grip this situation.”
Responding to a question about whether he was prepared to leave the ECHR to achieve his goal, he said that if other measures turn out not to be effective enough, “no option should be off the table because we must have control over our borders.”
“Any sovereign country must be able to do that,” he said.
Stressing that regaining control over migration was one of the reasons for his support of Brexit, he listed some of the measures he wants to introduce to address the problem.
“We've got to change the definition of asylum,” he said. He explained that the UK currently uses the ECHR’s definition which, in his opinion, is too broad and is “exploited by the lefty lawyers for lots of spurious reasons.”
“So, I think, we should move to a different definition, another international standard that the Australians and others use, which is much tighter and narrower,” Sunak, himself the son of immigrants, said.
He also suggested that the UK needs to be “tougher” with its foreign policy and not hesitate to ask other countries to take back their “failed asylum seekers.”
The former chancellor also stressed that, in accordance with his “radical plan,” he is prepared to “do whatever it takes” to make the policy of sending illegal migrants to Rwanda work. On this matter, Sunak is in agreement with his competitor for the Tory leadership position, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who also supports the policy, despite the legal setbacks and criticism.
Sunak has made containing illegal migration one of the key points of his leadership campaign. He had previously claimed that he would be able to build a more “constructive” relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron than outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson had done, and that this would also help Britain tackle the issue.
Meanwhile, as Daily Mail reported on Saturday, over the last seven years the UK government has spent almost half a billion pounds on preventing migrants from embarking on the dangerous trip across the Channel. Nevertheless, the number of illegal crossings has continued skyrocketing. This past week alone 1,372 illegal migrants reached UK shores, putting the total for this year now over 17,000.