Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. The Staggers
6 June 2023

Is Sunak delivering on his migration promises?

Because his reputation relies on the perception of competence, the PM’s “stop the boats” campaign must be seen to be succeeding.

By Freddie Hayward

Will “stop the boats” soon become “fewer boats”? The Prime Minister delivered a speech yesterday (5 June) arguing progress had been made on stopping migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. He said crossings were down 20 per cent.

The Times reports this elicited “several raised eyebrows” in the Home Office because most crossings occur between July and September, anyway. Meanwhile, the most important political fact remains that, as Ben’s chart below shows, the cost of living dominates voters’ priorities. But Sunak has placed his five priorities – halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing national debt, reducing NHS wait times, and stopping small-boat crossings – at the forefront of his pitch to the public. He trades in competence. And that depends on delivering what’s promised.

There are several factors at play. The government’s deal with Albania to return migrants appears to be working. According to those Times figures, there has been a 90 per cent fall in the number of Albanian arrivals. Last year, they accounted for around a quarter of crossings. But the Albanian deal is the exception – the government is struggling to secure further deals with other countries. Hence the deport-to-Rwanda scheme, though that’s still gummed-up in the courts.

Then there is the issue of processing the claims of asylum seekers who are already here. The PM promised to clear the backlog of 92,000 outstanding asylum claims by the end of the year. But, six months in, there are still 75,000 claims to process.

That’s one reason why so many migrants are being housed in hotels. Some Tory MPs get grief from their constituents over the arrangement, and it’s not suitable for the migrants themselves. And let’s not forget that asylum seekers are often housed in the most deprived areas of the country, away from London and the south-east. In his speech, Sunak announced the government had secured two more barges to house migrants, taking the total barge capacity to 1,500. Meanwhile, there are reportedly more than 50,000 migrants in hotels.

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via saturdayread.substack.com The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via morningcall.substack.com
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
THANK YOU

So why give the speech? Polling suggests many people no longer trust the government on migration. If the Prime Minister is going to reverse that trend, now is the time to start convincing voters that he is delivering – even if it’s too early to tell. As with so much in Sunak’s premiership, he is running out of time.

This piece first appeared in the Morning Call newsletter; subscribe to it on Substack here.

[See also: Sunak pledge tracker: Are the PM’s promises being fulfilled?]

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

Topics in this article : , ,