In a surprising turn of events, Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, has issued a stark warning about the weaponization of illegal migration by malign states deliberately pushing people towards the shores of Britain. During a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in Rome, Sunak emphasized the urgent need for action to prevent the UK from being overwhelmed by the escalating issue.

Sunak expressed his concerns that enemies seek to use migration as a weapon, necessitating radical solutions such as the Rwanda plan to protect borders. The plan involves jointly financing initiatives to facilitate the voluntary return of migrants stuck in Tunisia to their home countries, addressing the challenges posed by the Mediterranean route.

During the visit to Rome, Sunak and Meloni also engaged in discussions with Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, reinforcing their alliance to combat illegal migration. The leaders announced their joint funding of a project to promote and assist the voluntary return of migrants in Tunisia.

Sunak, speaking at the Atreju event organized by Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party, stressed the need for potential changes to global refugee rules, emphasizing that failing to tackle the problem could lead to overwhelming numbers that would strain countries’ capacities.

The Prime Minister hinted at a willingness to update laws and engage in an international conversation to amend post-war frameworks around asylum. He underscored the gravity of the situation, stating that without immediate action, the influx of boats would persist, resulting in more lives lost at sea.

While Sunak did not explicitly name the malign states, the reference likely included Russia, given recent accusations that Moscow is deliberately sending Middle Eastern migrants into the European Union to destabilize the bloc.

As Sunak faces pressure from hardliners on the Tory right to block interference from the European Court of Human Rights and the UN Refugee Convention, he reaffirmed the commitment to tackling the root causes of migration. The Prime Minister praised Giorgia Meloni’s “Rome Process” alliance, aligning Mediterranean, Middle East, and Africa countries to address migration issues.

The speech at the Atreju event invoked the legacy of Margaret Thatcher, emphasizing the need for her radicalism and drive to be applied to the issue of illegal migration. Sunak concluded that ensuring sovereignty in deciding who enters countries is crucial, warning that failure to deliver on this would erode public patience.

The announcement of the joint funding project and Sunak’s strong stance on migration issues comes amid ongoing efforts to revive the Rwanda scheme, a key priority for the Prime Minister in addressing small boat crossings in the Channel. Despite recent challenges and criticism, Sunak secured a key Commons vote on legislation related to the Rwanda plan.

However, critics, including Shadow immigration minister Stephen Kinnock, argue that it is not too late to reconsider the Rwanda plan, accusing the Prime Minister of escalating rhetoric without a concrete plan to address dangerous boat crossings. The ongoing debate underscores the complexity and urgency surrounding the issue of illegal migration, both domestically and internationally.

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