Rishi Sunak plugs for ‘common sense’ refugee system as UK PM

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss will face off each other in a televised debate on the BBC on Monday

July 24, 2022 03:46 pm | Updated 05:09 pm IST - London

Former British Chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers a speech at Vaculug Tyre, in Grantham.

Former British Chancellor of Exchequer Rishi Sunak delivers a speech at Vaculug Tyre, in Grantham. | Photo Credit: AP

Rishi Sunak on July 24, 2022 focussed on the sensitive issue of immigration by promising a “healthy dose of common sense” approach as part of his bid to win over Conservative Party voters in the leadership race for a new party leader to succeed Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.

The 42-year-old British Indian former Chancellor laid out a 10-point plan to secure the UK’s borders if he wins in the Tory members’ postal ballot, the results of which will be known on September 5.

Writing in ‘The Daily Telegraph’, he also promised to curb the power of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), withhold aid money if countries refuse to take back failed asylum seekers and criminals, and use cruise ships to house illegal migrants.

“The ECHR cannot inhibit our ability to properly control our borders and we shouldn’t let it. We need to inject a healthy dose of common sense into the system, and that is what my plan does,” he wrote.

The Tory MP for Richmond (Yorks) suggested that the government has so far failed to deliver on the Vote Leave Brexit pledge to “take back control” of the country’s borders, as he describes the country's asylum system as chaotic and “broken”.

“Numbers [of refugees] should be determined by need. Our Parliament will be given control of the number of refugees we accept each year,” he writes in the newspaper.

Reviving his Brexit credentials as someone who campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union (EU) in the 2016 referendum, Sunak pointed out that immigration and a desire to control Britain’s borders was one of the factors that motivated him towards that decision.

He also referenced his own Indian immigrant roots as he set out his plan for a controlled system, a move seen as appealing to the extreme right of the Tory party which has currently put his opponent in the race, Liz Truss, in the lead.

“As my own family experienced when they came to this country over 60 years ago, Britain is a generous, ambitious and compassionate country and that is something to be proud of," he wrote.

"Successive waves of immigrants have come to the UK, seeking a better life and giving so much back in return. And 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 fulfil it.

“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," he added.

On the controversial policy of deporting some illegal migrants to Rwanda, he declared that the UK cannot “waste large sums of taxpayers’ money” on the policy only to fall at the first legal hurdle.

“I will make the policy work and will do whatever it takes to implement it and pursue additional similar partnerships,” he declared.

Ms. Truss also geared her campaign focus towards immigration on Sunday as she also pledged to ensure the scheme to deport some illegal migrants to Rwanda is fully implemented.

“As Prime Minister, I am determined to see the Rwanda policy through to full implementation as well as exploring other countries where we can work on similar partnerships,” she said.

Mr. Sunak and Ms. Truss will face off each other in a televised debate on the BBC on Monday, the first since the leadership shortlist was whittled down to the final two.

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