Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to fix the UK’s “broken” asylum system and crack down on illegal boat crossings from France if he becomes prime minister, while his rival, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, said she’ll push to send more migrants to third countries for processing.
Sunak said he would tighten the statutory definition of who qualifies for asylum in his first 100 days in office, and fight the European Court of Human Rights, which has challenged the UK’s policy to deport some asylum seekers to Rwanda, according to a letter published in the Telegraph on Saturday.
Read More: Johnson’s Tories Attack European Court as Deportation Halted
In a separate emailed statement on Sunday, Truss said she plans to fully implement the government’s Rwanda policy, explore similar partnerships with other countries, and push for reforms to the ECHR so it “works better” for Britain. She said she’ll increase the UK’s frontline border force by 20% and double the border force’s maritime staffing levels.
“I will not cower to the ECHR and its continued efforts to try and control immigration policy,” Truss said.
Under Sunak, the Parliament would determine the number of refugees the UK accepts every year, and those fleeing imminent danger would be prioritized, he wrote. He also pledged to crack down on small boats carrying migrants across the English Channel from France, and to work with French President Emmanuel Macron on measures to tackle the issue, including efforts to disrupt people smuggling routes, using British technology and surveillance equipment and British personnel on the ground.
Truss also said she’ll work with France and other European partners on the illegal migration problem and will appoint a single Home Office Minister, who would have oversight of the UK’s Border Force.
Sunak called on businesses to verify their employees’ immigration status and emphasized the role of data sharing to make it easier to identify people in the UK illegally. He said the UK needs to urgently clear the asylum backlog and set a target that 80% of claims are resolved within six months.
“Where we have a duty for those seeking asylum — whether it be those fleeing war-torn countries such as Ukraine or escaping persecution as we are seeing in Hong Kong — we will fulfill it,” Sunak wrote. “But basic human decency must be accompanied with hard-headed common sense. In June 2016, the people of this country sent a clear message. I heard them and as Prime Minister I will do what was promised and take back control.”
In a separate article, the Times spelled out Truss’s other priorities as prime minister, including reversing an increase in the national insurance tax, scrapping a planned increase in corporate taxes to 25%, and cutting £150 from household energy bills by freezing green levies. The measures, the equivalent of £30 billion in tax cuts, would be implemented from April 2023.
Here are other highlights from the Times story:
- Truss plans to present an emergency budget by the final week of September, the Times reported, citing her allies.
- She plans to announce a three-year spending review, including a rise in defense spending from 2% to 3% of GDP by 2030.
- Truss is also expected to restate the existing commitment to building 40 new hospitals and the expansion of doctor services, although she wouldn’t announce any long-term reform of the National Health Service until a later date.
- Times says sources have confirmed that either Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng or Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, would be appointed chancellor under Truss, while Sunak is likely to be made business secretary or given “another great office of state,” the Times said.
- Education Secretary James Cleverly is likely to succeed Truss as foreign secretary, while Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey, her campaign manager, is being touted for home secretary. Kemi Badenoch, a lawmaker who was forced out of the race for party leader, is being considered for culture or education secretary.