Rishi gets weak applause from Council of Europe as he quotes Churchill in speech

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The Prime Minister has said we ‘can’t sit back and watch’ as illegal migration takes place across Europe.

Rishi Sunak was speaking to leaders at the Council of Europe and quoted former PM Sir Winston Churchill as he spoke about the Illegal Migration Bill that he is currently trying to pass through parliament.

Mr Sunak channeled his inner Churchill as he spoke in Iceland and said: ‘The dangers before us are great but our strength is great too.’

He added that ‘freedom, democracy and the rule of law’ is what makes Europe so successful in his short speech.

It comes after the PM and Ursula von der Leyen earlier today agreed to establish a new working arrangement to ‘strengthen co-operation’ between the EU and UK on migration.

The Prime Minister and the president of the European Commission both underlined a ‘shared interest’ in tackling cross-border crime and people trafficking during a bilateral talk at a Council of Europe summit in Iceland, according to No 10.

The arrangement would see British agencies working together with Frontex, the EU border force, on ‘critical operational and strategic challenges including the situation in the Channel’, a Downing Street spokesman said.

The UK and the EU will now discuss ‘the details and operationalisation of this new working arrangement’, they added.

Mr Sunak had sought to make migration a key topic at the summit in Reykjavik on Tuesday, warning leaders that the international system for policing human trafficking is ‘not working’.

He also called for reforms to Strasbourg measures which have hampered his Rwanda plan.

Mr Sunak held talks with the president of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Siofra O’Leary, over a review of how Rule 39 works – the order that blocked the inaugural flight to Kigali last year.

People trafficking came up in the Prime Minister’s bilateral meeting with Dutch leader Mark Rutte, with whom he agreed to ‘tackle the scourge’ by working together ‘both bilaterally and through forums such as the European Political Community’, according to Downing Street.

At the summit, Mr Sunak said that both European communities and the world’s most vulnerable are ‘paying the price’ for the failure to prevent unlawful migration.

It comes as his Conservative administration attempts to pass into law measures designed to stop asylum seekers crossing the English Channel in small boats.

The Illegal Migration Bill aims to send asylum seekers who arrive in Britain via unauthorised routes back home or to a third country such as Rwanda, as well as cutting the daily £5.5 million cost of housing migrants who make it to the UK.

No 10 said the Government ‘remains committed’ to reducing net migration amid speculation it could pass the one million mark next year.

It follows reports that the Home Office has privately shared figures with No 10 suggesting more than 1.1 million foreign workers and students could legally arrive in Britain in 2024/25, just as the Tories face a general election test.

Mr Sunak’s spokesman said: ‘I won’t get into specific pieces of advice that go between departments and No 10.

‘The Government remains committed to reducing net migration over time while ensuring the economy has the skills we need.’

He said there is no specific target on reducing migration numbers and that the ‘priority is tackling illegal migration in the first instance’.

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