NEW figures show the Government continues to make progress on the Prime Minister’s plan to stop the boats: crossings remain down on last year, the legacy asylum backlog has been reduced by a third since December 2022, and enforced returns of people with no right to be in the UK are at their highest level since 2019.

The Government continues to leave no stone unturned in tackling this issue at its source. Last week, a new partnership with social media companies such as TikTok, Meta and X was announced to find and remove criminal content posted by people-smuggling gangs. This content can range from discount offers for groups of people and offers of false documentation - targeting vulnerable people for profit and putting people’s lives at risk.

A new agreement has also been struck with Turkey, which will see increased numbers of National Crime Agency officers deployed to Turkey to “ratchet up” joint operations targeting smugglers and the dinghy factories that supply them. This builds on previous agreements the UK has signed with Albania, which has resulted in over 2,500 Albanian nationals being sent back to their home country, and with France and Bulgaria to both increase intelligence sharing and disrupt the operations of organised crime networks.

Further still, action has been taken to deter those thinking of making the dangerous journey across the Channel. This includes ending the use of hotels to house asylum seekers and making use of a wider range of cheaper alternatives.

We are also making it harder for illegal migrants to work and operate in the UK, tripling fines for employers and landlords who allow illegal migrants to work for them or rent their properties. This will see the civil penalty for employers increase from £15,000 to £45,000 per illegal worker for a first breach. Increasing fines will prevent employers and landlords from engaging in these illegal practices and ultimately deter people from attempting to come to the UK illegally.

Ultimately, illegal migration is neither right nor fair to those who come here legally. The UK remains an open and tolerant country which has housed over half a million people through our safe and legal routes, including over 182,000 Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s aggression, and 25,000 Afghan citizens escaping the Taliban. This support will continue.

However, incidents such as the tragic events on Saturday are sadly another reminder of the extreme dangers of crossing the Channel in small boats and how vital it is that we continue with our plan to break the people smugglers’ business model and restore confidence in our immigration system.

Contact me: [email protected] | | House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA | @Mark_J_Harper |