The final two candidates to replace Boris Johnson as Britain’s prime minister have promised to tackle illegal immigration as a priority of their government.
Former Chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said they are backing the government’s controversial policy of sending refugees to Rwanda.
Tory leadership candidate Truss vowed on Sunday that she will extend the Rwanda asylum scheme if she wins the keys to No 10. “The Rwanda policy is the right policy,” Truss said. “I’m determined to see it through to full implementation, as well as exploring other countries that we can work on similar partnerships with. It’s the right thing to do. “
Sunak also said he would treat illegal immigration as "one of five major emergency responses" he will tackle in his first 100 days as prime minister. "I’ll take a hard-headed targets approach, with incentives for people who meet them and penalties for those who don’t," he wrote in The Sun.
Sunak said as prime minister, he won’t think twice about Britain’s relationship with any country who “won’t cooperate on taking back illegal migrants.” He formerly denied claims he tried to block the controversial policy while in Cabinet as the chancellor.
In mid-April, the government of Johnson signed a deal with Rwanda to send illegal migrants to the African country.
The UK has promised Rwanda an initial £120 million as part of an “economic transformation and integration fund” but the UK will be paying for operational costs too.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), however, blocked the first deportation flight to Rwanda last month.
More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in the UK in small boats since the deal was signed.
In total, more than 15,000 have crossed the Channel this year, almost double the number that had arrived by this time last year.
Johnson has claimed the deal would stop human smugglers from sending desperate migrants on treacherous journeys across the English Channel.
British lawmakers, however, told the government there was "no clear evidence" that the controversial Rwanda policy would stop Channel crossings in small boats.
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