In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, the Prime Minister dismissed criticisms of his immigration policy by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who said that the plan to send asylum seekers on to Rwanda was ‘morally unacceptable’.
He also pledged to hold twice-weekly cross-governmental meetings to tackle the crisis, modelled on the way No 10 dealt with the Covid pandemic.
The Archbishop made his critical remarks during scrutiny of the new laws by the House of Lords – but Mr Sunak said that he would not wait for the Illegal Migration Bill to clear Parliament before taking action.
He said: ‘I respectfully disagree with the Archbishop on this and I’ve spoken about it a lot. The number of illegal crossings last year was 45,000. That number has gone up four or five times in just a couple of years and it can’t carry on like this.’
A giant barge, the Bibby Stockholm, which is designed to hold 500 migrants, arrived in Falmouth, Cornwall, last week (pictured)
A giant barge, the Bibby Stockholm, which is designed to hold 500 migrants, arrived in Falmouth, Cornwall, last week.
The Prime Minister said: ‘I don’t think it’s right that the British taxpayers are forking out £5.5 million a day to house illegal asylum seekers, that hotels in their communities are being taken over for this use. So barges are a solution to that and we will do as many as it takes.
‘We want to deliver that Bill and what I can also tell you is that I’m not waiting for that moment to happen. We are getting ready now. So, we have put in place a new government committee structure, a bit like how we ran things during the pandemic, where I chair meetings twice a week so that we can get everything ready so that from the moment that we have the green light we can crack on and deliver it.’
However, the Prime Minister’s remarks came as members of the new grassroots Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) gathered in Bournemouth amid deep unease among many party members after this month’s disastrous local election results for the Tories.
The CDO has been branded a ‘bring back Boris’ campaign and the gathering began with organisation president Lord Cruddas delivering a stinging condemnation of the way Boris Johnson was removed by Tory MPs at Westminster.
Rishi Sunak vowed to secure as many barges ‘as it takes’ to house migrants as he tried to face down a revolt from the Right of the Tory Party
He also hit out at the coup which saw Liz Truss ushered out of government in just 49 days and then replaced by Mr Sunak, who never received a mandate from the party membership.
And former Home Secretary Priti Patel hit out at ‘the ousting’ of Mr Johnson – ‘the most successful democratically elected Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher’.
She also warned that the manner of Mr Johnson’s ejection had ‘broken that golden thread . . . between the bottom of the party and the top’.
She said that if leaders spent more time with the grassroots of the party ‘they would be more in touch with the people and with our values . . . and perhaps if they did that, last week we would not have seen 1,000 of our friends and colleagues lose their seats in the local elections and dozens of councils fall out of Conservative control’.