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By Frank McKenna

By Frank McKenna

As the UK pays a fortune to deliver an ineffective Rwanda policy – the EU gets serious about its immigration headache

As the UK tries to strike up a partnership with Rwanda to help with its immigration challenge, the EU adopts a more practical plan to resolve this ever-increasing political problem.

One of Rishi Sunak’s five pledges when he became Prime Minister was to” Stop the boats.”

Since then, there have been a record number of Channel crossings of illegal migrants or asylum seekers, and immigration figures have soared to a record high in the UK.

But fear not, as a policy, first dreamt up by Boris Johnson, then supported by Liz Truss, and now taken forward by Sunak, the ‘Rwanda Plan’ is likely to be made law before the end of the summer.

This will enable Britain to send around 200 of those who enter the country illegally to Rwanda – at an estimated cost of £541million. That this nonsensical policy has already cost us over £20milion – without a single asylum seeker leaving the British Isles for sunnier climes – simply illustrates that this ‘plan’ is all about virtue signalling and keeping the Conservative Party’s right wing happy, rather than finding a solution to an ever-growing problem.

Of course, one of the many promised ‘Brexit benefits’ was an ability for us to do two key things in this policy area. Firstly, Freedom of Movement with our EU partners would stop – preventing Europeans to live and work in the UK, and vice-versa. Second, we could control our borders!

On the first point, the country has ended up with the biggest skills shortages and vacancy rate since the war. The hospitality sector, particularly in the capital and big cities, is in crisis, and many other industries, nursing, care, construction, and agricultural to name just a few, are similarly challenged.

As for taking back control of our borders – well, the record numbers of immigrants now residing in the UK would suggest that, perhaps, that hasn’t quite worked out either.

Of course, immigration is not just a UK problem. Countries across Europe have faced a huge spike in the numbers of migrants they are struggling to cope with, and the populist right in places like Italy, France, and even Germany, has gained support on the back of this issue.

It was inevitable, therefore, that the EU would look to find a solution to this challenge, and this week a major overhaul of migration rules was announced.

They are going to give £500million to the Rwandan government, in return for….Oh, of course they’re not.

The European Parliament has approved a plan that will accelerate the asylum process, require EU members states to share responsibly asylum seekers, and collaborate with border controls more effectively.

That the EU Asylum and Migration Pact is not a panacea is undeniable. Nonetheless, it is a genuinely serious attempt to resolve a complex issue – and one that I would suggest has a better chance of success than the ‘Rwanda Plan’.

Downtown in Business