Rishi Sunak’s flagship Rwanda bill is not tough enough to deter illegal immigration, Robert Jenrick has said Rishi Sunak hosts a press conference at Downing Street in London, England, December 7, 2023 © AFP / James Manning

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must dramatically tighten the UK’s immigration policy or face “the red-hot fury” of voters, former Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick wrote in The Telegraph on Friday. Jenrick resigned on Wednesday over a deportation bill that he said “did not go far enough.”

Jenrick quit his post on Wednesday after Sunak put forward his Safety of Rwanda Bill, which provided for the deportation of illegal immigrants from the UK to the African nation for resettlement. In his resignation letter, Jenrick argued that by failing to override international laws and allowing migrants to challenge their deportation in court, the bill would not “end the merry-go-round of legal challenges which risk paralyzing the scheme.”

Writing in The Telegraph, Jenrick explained that a recent decision by the UK Supreme Court – which ruled that deportation flights could be blocked over the perceived threat that Rwanda could then deport migrants to their home countries – must be overridden. Otherwise, the bill “invites each small boat arrival to concoct a reason to delay their removal,” he argued, claiming that pro-migration NGOs will “gladly assist them in this endeavor,” producing a court backlog that will allow migrants to “disappear into communities.”

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A deportation bill must also block challenges from the European Court of Human Rights, which prevented the first flight to Rwanda from taking off last summer, Jenrick argued.

“Clearly for the policy to work we need individuals removed at scale, and within days of illegally stepping on to our shores. Anything less than this and the boats will keep coming,” he wrote.

Britain has had Conservative prime ministers for 13 years, all of whom have promised to reduce illegal immigration. However, arrivals have skyrocketed, with a record 45,756 migrants arriving by sea in the so-called ‘small boats’ last year, almost half of whom came from Albania, a country the UK considers “safe.” Although arrivals are down 30% this year and a deportation deal has been struck with Tirana to fast-track the deportation of Albanians, Jenrick argued that legal immigration presents an even larger challenge that must be addressed.

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“Integration is impossible if you let in over 1.2 million new people as we have done over the last two years,” he wrote, adding that this influx has strained Britain’s healthcare service, depressed wages, and caused a shortage of houses.

“These are all facts the public feel acutely in their day-to-day lives, which is why reducing net migration amongst virtually every voting group has such salience,” he continued.

“As we are seeing in election after election across Europe, immigration will be a defining issue of 21st century politics,” he concluded. “Center-Right parties across Europe have a choice: begin to deliver on the mainstream concerns of ordinary people when it comes to immigration, or face their red-hot fury at the ballot box.”