Rishi Sunak refuses to answer when small boat crossings will end and admits he hasn't read report into Boris Johnson

The Prime Minister faced a series of questions about his immigration policies, following the Rwanda scheme being blocked in the courts.

Rishi Sunak has declined to answer when small boat crossings will end and has admitted he has not read the Privileges Committee report into former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Appearing before Westminster’s liaison committee, the Prime Minister dodged answering when he would fulfil his pledge to “stop the boats”, but denied the plan was on hold while the Rwanda policy remains grounded by court challenges.

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Mr Sunak also said on Tuesday he is “throwing everything at” tackling inflation, as he struggles to achieve his Government’s five priorities on the six-month anniversary of setting them.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appearing before the Liaison Committee at the House of Commons.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appearing before the Liaison Committee at the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appearing before the Liaison Committee at the House of Commons.

Facing a barrage of questions from senior MPs, the Prime Minister avoided answering whether he had a plan for stopping boat crossings.

He said: “Our belief remains that the plan that we have is legal. It’s compliant with all our obligations, and we’ll be appealing it vigorously.

“I’m not going to talk about a private commercial contract that we have, but our Rwanda scheme, as we have said multiple times, is uncapped, which is why I believe it can act as a very helpful deterrent when the scheme is up and running”.

Mr Sunak denied he had no plan B if the Supreme Court did not overturn the ruling blocking the forceful removal of asylum seekers to Kigali.

Home Affairs chairwoman Dame Diana Johnson asked: “So you’re betting everything on the Rwanda policy being upheld in the Supreme Court?”

Mr Sunak replied: “No, that’s not a fair characterisation of what we’re doing.”

Asked if his pledge to “stop the boats” was on hold, Mr Sunak said: “No, and a good example of why it’s not on hold is our deal with Albania.”

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But pressed on when he would achieve the target, Mr Sunak said: “The court will have to determine its own ruling and that’s outside the Government’s hands. But in the meantime we can get on with a range of other things.”

Immigration has caused a serious headache for the Prime Minister of late, with 25 of his own backbenchers publishing an “alternative manifesto” calling for tighter controls, and for him to slash the number of overseas care workers, foreign students and refugees allowed into the UK.

Just last month Mr Sunak insisted his plan was “starting to work” before official figures showed it was the busiest June on record for migrant crossings. The extra 3,824 detected people arriving after crossing the Channel on small boats pushed the total so far this year to 11,434.

The Prime Minister also faced questioning over his promise to halve inflation to around 5 per cent, with the latest figures placing the rate on 8.7 per cent.

Mr Sunak told MPs: “It’s clearly proving more persistent than people anticipated.” Asked what percentage he would put on his goal, he said: “I don’t have one for you. I’m working 100 per cent to deliver it and we will keep doing it.

“That’s all I can do, is just keep throwing everything at it.”

In January, the Prime Minister also pledged to reduce national debt, which has reached more than 100 per cent of economic output for the first time since 1961 as Government borrowing swells.



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