Minister confident small boats will be stopped in the ‘fullness of time’

Channel crossings will be stopped “in the fullness of time”, a Home Office minister claimed this morning as Labour and the Conservative Party battle over measures to tackle illegal migration.

Defending the government’s immigration policies, policing minister Chris Philp said he had full confidence in the government’s approach, saying: “The number of small boats this year compared to the same time last year, is around about 20% down. Now, we’d like to go a lot further, obviously, but it’s a good start”.

Asked on Sky News whether Rishi Sunak could meet his pledge of stopping the boats, announced at the start of this year, he said: “I’m confident in the fullness of time, yes, we will stop those boats.

“We must stop those boats. They’re illegal crossings of the Channel, they’re dangerous. They’re also unnecessary because France is a safe country, it’s not a war zone.”

Turning to Labour’s policy on illegal immigration, the policing minister accused Keir Starmer’s party of pursuing an “open border policy”.

Labour has promised to end the use of hotels for asylum seekers if it gets into power at the next election.

The party said this morning it would clear the growing backlog of asylum cases and speed up the return of those who fail to meet the threshold.

The backlog of asylum claims in the UK recently hit a record high of 175,457 people waiting for an initial decision on their application — up 44% from 2022.

Labour has pledged to tackle these figures by hiring over 1,000 new caseworkers for the Home Office.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper argued a Labour government would achieve this by establishing temporary “Nightingale courts” to speed up the processing of asylum claims, pledging also to end the use of hotels and barges as asylum accommodation.

Cooper told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “We have set out a plan that would save the taxpayer over £2billion. 

“It would end hotel use and also the chaotic and costly barges and RAF Scampton, the home of the Dambusters, and return to simply using the longstanding asylum accommodation that has been in place for many years and we would do so by setting up a new returns unit to deal with the fact that there has been a 70 per cent drop in returns under the Conservatives of cases where people have failed in their asylum application.

“We would also have a fast track system for safe countries. We would have new Nightingale courts to speed up some of the appeals and an additional 1,000 to 1,200 caseworkers to actually tackle the decisions, speed up the whole process.

The policing minister Chris Philp argued this would make “the problem worse, not better”.

“If Labour did bring across 100,000 people from Europe, where would they go? They’d end up in hotels”, he said.

“Look, the way to end the use of hotels is to stop the boats. We’re down 20%, we need to go further. The Rwanda deal will help stop the boats.”

Keir Starmer has labelled the claim that his plan could mean the UK taking in 100,000 EU migrants as “nonsense”.