Richard Tice has blasted Rishi Sunak as “inadequate” to deal with the immigration crisis.
The leader of Reform UK issued a withering assessment of the Prime Minister’s attempts to handle huge migration figures – as well as those of the Conservative Party over the last few years. He argued that “in four separate general elections the Tory party promised to bring down legal immigration numbers”, but statistics show this has not happened.
He added that “post-Brexit they changed the rules, not to tighten and reduce immigration but to open the borders and allow a wholly predictable surge.”
But Mr Sunak, who has recently faced multiple resignations and a storm of criticism over his attempts to get his controversial Rwanda plan through parliament, was the biggest target of Mr Tice’s ire. In an op-ed for the Telegraph, he said the measures put in in place by the PM are “hopelessly inadequate for the task”, adding that “Rwanda is just a side show”.
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The Reform UK leader highlighted that “a city the size of Birmingham, 1.2million people, is arriving every year.” Saying this was “mass immigration by any standard”, he added that previous Government policy had “reduced the salary thresholds and opened up the skilled worker criteria to some 800 job titles earning 20 percent less than the average salary.”
Migration to the UK from outside of the EU surged after Brexit, which experts attributed to Boris Johnson’s more liberal stance on immigration.
The former PM’s points-based immigration system lowered the salary and skill thresholds for anyone looking to work in the UK.
Most of the increase were made up of Indian, Pakistani, Nigerian and Filipino workers. There was a 25 percent increase in non-EU migrants in the last year than in 2019, according to the Home Office’s immigration figures, with 239,987 work-related visas granted.
However, Mr Sunak’s current focus appears to be on his Rwanda plan, which he claims will dissuade migrants travelling across the Channel in small boats to claim asylum in the UK.
The Home Office has been the target of criticism for its handling of large numbers of migrants claiming asylum in the UK, particularly surrounding the Manston processing centre.
Mr Tice wrote: “In 2014, some 87 percent of applications were decided upon within 6 months; now that figure is down to under 10 percent”.
He added: “If ministers and civil servants cared about fulfilling promises made to voters, this chaos would never have been allowed to mushroom into such a car crash,” and dismissed the Rwanda scheme as nothing more than a “side show”.
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The plan, which on Tuesday passed its second reading in Parliament, was nearly shot down by rebel Conservative MPs who claim Mr Sunak has watered it down too far.
The UK Supreme Court ruled in November of this year that the initial version of the plan was unlawful due to the risk that asylum seekers sent to Rwanda could be returned to their home countries, where they could face harm – under a legal term named “refoulement”.
In response, the Government signed a new treaty with Rwanda with the aim of strengthening its asylum processes and getting around the Supreme Court’s concerns.
Home Secretary James Cleverley said the revised treaty guarantees that any people sent to Rwanda to claim asylum would not be at risk of refoulement.
But the cost of the scheme has also attracted criticism, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer saying of what he named a “policy they knew would never work” on Tuesday: “The charade continues. £290million of taxpayers’ money – your money – spent on an exercise, and a failed one at that, in Conservative Party management.
“We’d have to pay for their hotels and upkeep and we’d have to accept refugees from Rwanda in exchange.”
While no asylum seekers have yet been sent to the African nation, Home secretary James Cleverly confirmed on Wednesday that the plan will have cost almost £400million by 2027.
Express.co.uk has contacted Mr Sunak for comment.
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