Sunak jets off to Spain to take on EU leaders over ‘immoral’ migration threat
Rishi Sunak defends pledge to stop small boats
Rishi Sunak is wasting no time after his party conference in Manchester, jetting off to Spain today for a crunch summit in Granada, Spain.
The Prime Minister will meet with European leaders, pledging that “strength in unity” is needed to create a continent-wide solution to the migrant crisis.
Speaking ahead of the summit, Mr Sunak said the current illegal migration numbers, and deaths at sea, are “both immoral and unsustainable”.
“Levels of illegal migration to mainland Europe are the highest they have been in nearly a decade.
“With thousands of people dying at sea, propelled by people smugglers, the situation is both immoral and unsustainable. We cannot allow criminal gangs to decide who comes to Europe’s shores.
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak sparks furious row with Spain over migrants move at EU summit
He added: “When it comes to facing down the threat from Putin, confronting the risks and opportunities of AI or dealing with illegal migration, there is strength in unity.
“These issues transcend national borders and require creative Europe-wide solutions – that is what I will be discussing with my fellow leaders at the European Political Community summit in Spain today.”
Mr Sunak will co-chair a group meeting on the topic with Georgia Meloni, the Italian Prime Minister.
Ms Meloni has emerged as Rishi Sunak’s closest European ally on the migration crisis, joining forces to press other EU leaders to act.
She recently warned fellow leaders they need a “paradigm change” to cope with the huge numbers entering her country via the sea of Africa.
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The Italian leader recently defeated Germany in a diplomatic clash over a new migration deal, which encapsulates the differing approaches being taken by European leaders over the crisis.
Ms Meloni won an “historic agreement” on how EU members will deal will the large increase in those claiming asylum on the continent, with frontline states like Italy being allowed to fast-track asylum claims and move them swiftly to other countries not taking in their fair share.
One Italian diplomat said the negotiation win over German “is a big result for us”.
Mr Sunak caused “havoc” last week when trying to hijack the European Political Community meeting for his own ends, with Spain reluctant to focus on the migrant crisis.
The PM demanded the summit abandon its current agenda in favour of crucial discussions about illegal immigration, rather than AI as the host country intended.
Mr Sunak’s demands forced France to step in as a mediator.
One diplomatic source said the British “want to overhaul the entire agenda and replace it with migration, which is not planned today”.
“They are taking advantage of what’s happened in the Mediterranean to try and impose their own agenda on the Channel.”
Last month, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “Migration is a European challenge that requires a European solution”.
At the time of the row, a senior Government source said Spain has been consistently uninterested in discussing how to tackle illegal immigration, adding: “They are the least interested of all the European countries on this issue”.
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