Sunak: ‘A Lot More to Do’ to Reduce Immigration

The prime minister sought to reassure voters of his 'determination to bring these numbers down' after the ONS released record-high estimates.Actions are needed to reduce immigration and there are "a lot more to do," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said as he sought to persuade jittering voters to stay with the Conservatives.It comes after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures showing record-high net migration last year."There is obviously a lot more to do and that's why we need to take action. I announced previously significant tightening up on the number of dependants that students can bring, which has seen a very striking rise over the past year or two," Mr. Sunak told Mail on Sunday."This represents the single biggest measure of restriction on legal migration that anyone's announced in years. That should give people a sense of my determination to bring these numbers down," he said.The prime minister said the government "won't hesitate to take action and clamp down" if it discovers "other areas of abuse."The Conservative government under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged to reduce migration in 2019, but the number has been running at record levels following a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, partly because of ad-hoc humanitarian programs for the Ukrainians, Hongkongers, and some Afghans, partly because of the post-Brexit regular immigration system is more liberalised then it was before.Related Stories11/15/2023 Estimates of the UK's long-term migration by the Office for National Statistics. (The Epoch Times)ONS figure published on Thursday shows a record of 745,000 more people moved to the UK than those who moved away last year, although the numbers are lower when looking at years ending in June—607,000 in the year ending June 2022 and 672,000 in the year ending June 2023. ONS estimates of net migration of UK, EU, and non-EU nationals. (The Epoch Times)Speaking to Sky’s "Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips," a Treasury minister acknowledged the number is "too high" and unsustainable."They are too high. We as a government want to bring them down to more sustainable levels," says Laura Trott, the newly-appointed chief secretary to the Treasury.Ms. Trott said immigration numbers will be brought down by reducing the number of dependants accompanying students and to “make sure that British people are taking jobs.” Small Boats Mr. Sunak, who is set to fail on delivering his promise to stop the boats by the end of this year, said he has made progress and "need[s] to finish the job."Having been in the job for a little over a year, the prime minister said he has "already got the numbers down by a third. Cumulative arrival of illegal immigrants by small boats. (The Epoch Times)"So I think people can trust me when I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to deliver on it," he said."I need to finish the job and that means getting the Rwanda deal up and running. I'm prepared to do whatever is necessary to get that scheme operational," he said.The flagship policy to deport illegal immigrants to Rwanda, so they can seek asylum and settle in the east African country instead of in the UK, is the key part of the government's plan to deter immigrants from travelling to the UK from France on smuggler-run flimsy boats. In the past few years, small boats have become the main route of illegal entry into the UK.However, the Rwanda policy has suffered a series of legal setbacks.Mr. Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly have vowed to make it work by tinkering with it to satisfy the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice, but critics, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, insist that flights won't take off unless the government's emergency legislation blocks European and U.N. human rights treaties.The new home secretary said this week he's frustrated that the Rwanda policy has been seen as "the be all and end all," telling The Times of London that it's only part of the plan which also involves border enforcement, tackling smuggling gangs, and a deal with Albania which led to a sharp decrease of Albanian small boat arrivals.Following Mr. Sunak's Cabinet reshuffle last week, which saw the exit of populist home secretary Suella Braverman and the return of pre-Brexit former prime minister David Cameron, Reform UK gained a surge in support, according to a PeoplePolling survey.The party, rebranded from the Brexit Party, has refused to enter a pact with the Conservative Party after splitting right-wing votes in two recent by-elections, in which Labour won the seats.In a bit to persuade voters, the prime minister said "a vote for everyone who is not a Conservative is a vote to put [Labour leader] Keir Starmer into office.""The question for people who care about tackling migration, who want to get our taxes down, who think we need to have more common sense in our discourse is: do you want Keir Starmer or me to be your prime minister?" he said.

Sunak: ‘A Lot More to Do’ to Reduce Immigration

The prime minister sought to reassure voters of his 'determination to bring these numbers down' after the ONS released record-high estimates.

Actions are needed to reduce immigration and there are "a lot more to do," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said as he sought to persuade jittering voters to stay with the Conservatives.

It comes after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures showing record-high net migration last year.

"There is obviously a lot more to do and that's why we need to take action. I announced previously significant tightening up on the number of dependants that students can bring, which has seen a very striking rise over the past year or two," Mr. Sunak told Mail on Sunday.

"This represents the single biggest measure of restriction on legal migration that anyone's announced in years. That should give people a sense of my determination to bring these numbers down," he said.

The prime minister said the government "won't hesitate to take action and clamp down" if it discovers "other areas of abuse."

The Conservative government under former Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged to reduce migration in 2019, but the number has been running at record levels following a dip during the COVID-19 pandemic, partly because of ad-hoc humanitarian programs for the Ukrainians, Hongkongers, and some Afghans, partly because of the post-Brexit regular immigration system is more liberalised then it was before.

.
 Estimates of the UK's long-term migration by the Office for National Statistics. (The Epoch Times)
Estimates of the UK's long-term migration by the Office for National Statistics. (The Epoch Times)

.

ONS figure published on Thursday shows a record of 745,000 more people moved to the UK than those who moved away last year, although the numbers are lower when looking at years ending in June—607,000 in the year ending June 2022 and 672,000 in the year ending June 2023.

.

 ONS estimates of net migration of UK, EU, and non-EU nationals. (The Epoch Times)
ONS estimates of net migration of UK, EU, and non-EU nationals. (The Epoch Times)

.

Speaking to Sky’s "Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips," a Treasury minister acknowledged the number is "too high" and unsustainable.

"They are too high. We as a government want to bring them down to more sustainable levels," says Laura Trott, the newly-appointed chief secretary to the Treasury.

Ms. Trott said immigration numbers will be brought down by reducing the number of dependants accompanying students and to “make sure that British people are taking jobs.”

Small Boats

Mr. Sunak, who is set to fail on delivering his promise to stop the boats by the end of this year, said he has made progress and "need[s] to finish the job."

Having been in the job for a little over a year, the prime minister said he has "already got the numbers down by a third.

.

 Cumulative arrival of illegal immigrants by small boats. (The Epoch Times)
Cumulative arrival of illegal immigrants by small boats. (The Epoch Times)

.

"So I think people can trust me when I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to deliver on it," he said.

"I need to finish the job and that means getting the Rwanda deal up and running. I'm prepared to do whatever is necessary to get that scheme operational," he said.

The flagship policy to deport illegal immigrants to Rwanda, so they can seek asylum and settle in the east African country instead of in the UK, is the key part of the government's plan to deter immigrants from travelling to the UK from France on smuggler-run flimsy boats. In the past few years, small boats have become the main route of illegal entry into the UK.

However, the Rwanda policy has suffered a series of legal setbacks.

Mr. Sunak and Home Secretary James Cleverly have vowed to make it work by tinkering with it to satisfy the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice, but critics, including former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, insist that flights won't take off unless the government's emergency legislation blocks European and U.N. human rights treaties.

The new home secretary said this week he's frustrated that the Rwanda policy has been seen as "the be all and end all," telling The Times of London that it's only part of the plan which also involves border enforcement, tackling smuggling gangs, and a deal with Albania which led to a sharp decrease of Albanian small boat arrivals.

Following Mr. Sunak's Cabinet reshuffle last week, which saw the exit of populist home secretary Suella Braverman and the return of pre-Brexit former prime minister David Cameron, Reform UK gained a surge in support, according to a PeoplePolling survey.
The party, rebranded from the Brexit Party, has refused to enter a pact with the Conservative Party after splitting right-wing votes in two recent by-elections, in which Labour won the seats.

In a bit to persuade voters, the prime minister said "a vote for everyone who is not a Conservative is a vote to put [Labour leader] Keir Starmer into office."

"The question for people who care about tackling migration, who want to get our taxes down, who think we need to have more common sense in our discourse is: do you want Keir Starmer or me to be your prime minister?" he said.