Sunak to meet Austrian chancellor in bid to strengthen illegal migration efforts

Rishi Sunak and his Austrian counterpart will agree in a face-to-face meeting that schemes like the UK’s Rwanda plan are needed to tackle illegal migration into Europe.

The Prime Minister will meet with Chancellor Karl Nehammer in Vienna on Tuesday, with the two expected to agree in a joint statement that sending migrants to designated safe third countries, such as the Rwanda plan, play a part in tackling the Europe-wide issue.

The Vienna meeting comes after 15 EU countries, including Austria, signed a letter calling on the European Commission to tighten migration policy and to look at third country schemes.

Mr Sunak said the UK was “leading the charge with partners across the continent to meet the challenges caused by intolerable levels of illegal migration”.

He added: “Our disruption of the cruel trade of criminal gangs, together with our Rwanda scheme, are part of a deterrent to stop illegal migration once and for all.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“It is the British public who should make decisions about who crosses our borders.”

The Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act passed into law last month and is aimed at protecting the scheme against legal challenges.

Ministers hope the first flight to the east African nation will be able to take off in early July, with a regular pattern of further flights to follow.

These one-way journeys to Rwanda are aimed at deterring migrants from crossing the English Channel in small boats, though critics have contested whether it will have this effect.

The Government has also announced an extra £25 million for the National Crime Agency (NCA) to sustain and scale up efforts to disrupt people-smuggling operations.

The additional cash is expected to provide new equipment and specialist teams in the NCA, enhance links between the NCA, Home Office and police, and to do more to disrupt small boats supply chains.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: “I have prioritised cracking down on organised immigration crime and breaking the business model of people smugglers since day one.

“Since 2020, we have already successfully dismantled 82 organised crime groups, seized 352 boats and prevented thousands of migrants from crossing the Channel.

“Through our continued work with the National Crime Agency and enhancing our capabilities even further, we’ll do everything possible to disrupt the criminals who profit from this immoral trade.”