The Conservative Party has always wanted to sound tough on illegal migration, but with thousands more migrants set to cross the Channel this year than in the record year 2022, there is much work to be done. With the party desperate to emerge from its definite rut ahead of next year’s general election, the prime minister has signalled the launch of new initiatives aimed at clamping down on these crossings.
The first is a voluntary partnership between Rishi Sunak’s government and social media companies. This, according to a press briefing, will “accelerate action to tackle people smuggling content online, such as criminals sharing information about illegal Channel crossings.”
Officials admitted that 90% of smuggling content is already taken down when social media companies are notified. But it hopes a closer relationship with the tech companies will, as Mr. Sunak put it, “redouble our efforts to fight back against these criminals.”
His government is also in talks with German officials, which it hopes will help seize hundreds of dinghies used to transport migrants across the Channel. The Sunday Times reports that the National Crime Agency believes most of the boats used for this purpose are stored in German warehouses before being sent to the French coast.
But it added that the scheme to seize such vessels might not stand on firm ground, given that “it is not currently a criminal offence in Germany to be caught in possession of the flimsy boats.”
Close to 15,000 migrants have already entered Britain via the Channel this year. The government is likely desperate to keep the annual total below last year’s 45,755. Just one person over that number would create embarrassing headlines at a time when the Conservative Party is once again set on appearing—even if not acting—hard.