Rishi Sunak has pledged to “ratchet up” removals of illegal migrants from Albania and insisted the controversial policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda will go ahead.
In an interview with Piers Morgan for TalkTV, the prime minister said asylum claims will be sped up to a “matter of days or weeks” and “not months or years”.
Mr Sunak warned arrivals who are deemed “inadmissible” for settlement in Britain “will not be able to stay here”.
In the “vast majority of cases”, he added, they would be sent to “an alternative safe country, be that where you have come from, if it’s safe, like Albania, or, indeed, Rwanda”.
Asked by Mr Morgan if the government’s Rwanda plan would really ever happen, after several legal challenges and a failed attempt to get a flight off the ground, Mr Sunak said: “Yes.”
Mr Sunak was being interviewed to mark the end of his first 100 days in the office.
When pressed on his plan for immigration after a record year of arrivals in small boats across the English channel, he touted a deal to fast-track removals of Albanian asylum seekers as one of his big achievements as prime minister.
He said: “The system that we need, the system that I want to introduce, is one whereby if you come here illegally, you should be swiftly detained and then in a matter of days or weeks we will hear your claim, not months and years, and then we will safely remove you somewhere else. And if we do that, that’s how we’ll break the cycle.”
The prime minister added: “In the first 100 days what have we done, what have I done? A, I’ve got a new deal with France, which is increasing the amount of patrols that are happening on French beaches, which is making a difference already. Secondly, I’ve got a brand new deal with Albania.”
He went on: “We’re putting illegal migrants from Albania back on flights and that will ratchet up over the year. And that’s tangible improvement in the situation. That deal is a new deal.”
The prime minister said he plans to table new laws soon to enforce the changes to asylum processing. Stopping small boats was one of his five key pledges made in a speech last month.
The government’s shake-up of asylum rules has drawn several legal challenges and condemnation from refugee aid groups and the UN. The UN Refugee Agency said the plan would violate international law and undermine Britain’s “humanitarian tradition”.
Rishi Sunak’s interview on Piers Morgan Uncensored will air on TalkTV at 8pm on Thursday.