UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has taken a helicopter ride to Dover -to do a 74 mile journey. He undertook the journey yesterday to talk about his small boat strategy.
Critics to the Prime Minister have said that the helicopter trip could have been achieved in 1hr 15mins by train, at a fraction of the cost. The train may have been the cheaper option, but it would have taken a brave person to trust the trains to be running on time.
Rishi Sunak is known to be a helicopter enthusiast, so this was an ideal opportunity for him to have a go in a RAF Agusta Westland A109 and get a chance to see the Channel from the air.
The PM flew to Kent to give a speech on the progress in the six months since he introduced the Illegal Migration Bill under his plans to “stop the boats”. Nobody is quite sure why he had to make this speech in Dover and not from London. Some say that he requested the trip so that he could break in his new brown boots.
Mr Sunak spoke from the Western Jet Foil, an asylum seeker processing centre in Dover. He addressed members of the media over immigration and illegal crossings and the progress, or lack of, made in the last six months.
He said that the number of asylum seekers making the dangerous journey from France to the UK in small boats has fallen by 20% – not really that much of a drop.
He said: “We will not rest until the boats are stopped and with grit and determination we will stop this.”
He added “The message is if you come here illegally you can’t stay. You will be detained and removed to your own country or a safe country such as Rwanda”. Which is interesting considering the problems of the Government actually getting an aircraft off the ground to Rwanda. Perhaps he is hoping that the illegal smugglers don’t read the news that often.
immigration minister Robert Jenrick recently announced the backlog in processing asylum cases was still at more than 150,000 cases
Dover MP Natalie Elphicke, who was at the Jet Foil listening to Mr Sunak’s speech, said “The Prime Minister specifically commented about the impact of the small boats crossings on our area, referencing my meetings with him and other Ministers to highlight pressures on local services and our community. I also met with the small boats operational commanders to discuss steps being taken to ensure boats don’t reach our beaches undetected.
“It’s good news that overall numbers of arrivals are down 20% so far this year, and Albanian numbers 90% down. However, it’s early days and too many boats are still making the dangerous crossing and it is costing too much. The PM is showing that with grit and grip he can turn the small boats crisis around.”