PM gives migration speech at event for conservatives in Rome

Politics

Rishi Sunak has said illegal migration threatens to “overwhelm” Europe and hinted a change is needed in international law in order to tackle it.

Speaking to Italian conservatives at an event in Rome, the prime minister said “enemies” could use immigration as a “weapon” by “deliberately driving people to our shores to try to destabilise our society”.

“Criminal gangs will find ever cheaper ways to ply their evil trade,” he added. “They will exploit our humanity.

“They think nothing of putting people’s lives at risk when they put them in these boats at sea.”

Mr Sunak then hinted at the need to change international law on immigration, telling the crowd at Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Atreju political festival: “If we do not tackle this problem, the numbers will only grow.

“It will overwhelm our countries and our capacity to help those who actually need our help the most.

“If that requires us to update our laws and lead an international conversation to amend the post-war frameworks around asylum, then we must do that.

More on Italy

“Because if we don’t fix this problem now, the boats will keep coming and more lives will be lost at sea.”

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Sunak on ‘unfair, immoral’ migration

Back in Britain, Mr Sunak has been fighting to pass his flagship Rwanda bill, which was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court last month.

Tuesday saw the prime minister survive a possible rebellion as a new draft of the bill – which declares in law that Rwanda is a safe country – was passed by MPs at its second reading by 313 votes to 270, a majority of 43.

The revised bill will allow ministers to disapply the UK’s Human Rights Act, but does not extend the same powers to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which hardline Tory MPs demanded.

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Rishi Sunak and Giorgia Meloni at political festival Atreju organised by the Brothers of Italy party, in Rome. Pic: Reuters
Image:
Rishi Sunak and Giorgia Meloni embraced after the prime minister’s speech. Pic: Reuters

PM embraces Meloni, praises Thatcher

While in Rome, Mr Sunak was embraced by Ms Meloni – who has taken a hard-line stance on migration and who’s populist Brothers of Italy party hosted the event.

The two leaders had held bilateral talks where they “agreed on the vital importance of tackling the scourge of illegal migration and the shared sense of urgency that they feel on this issue”, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Ms Meloni and Mr Sunak also met with Albania’s prime minister Edi Rama, who’s country has a deportation scheme with Italy.

New documents seen by Sky News show Italy’s migrant deal with Albania is far less radical than the Rwanda plan.

Rishi Sunak

Labour tells Sunak to ‘stop wasting time’

It comes as some 292 people made a journey across the English Channel in seven boats on Friday, according to Home Office figures published on Saturday.

It was also confirmed a migrant died during an incident on Friday, while another was left in a critical condition .

Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock said it was “not too late” for the prime minister to change direction on his migration policy.

“At the political summit he’s attending today in Italy”, he said, “the Prime Minister should commit to stop wasting time on the Rwanda gimmick.

“[He should] adopt Labour’s plan to invest in a cross-border policing unit to crack down on the criminal smuggling gangs making millions in the channel, put stronger powers in place and get a new security agreement including working with Europol so that we can tackle the problem at source.”

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